A Left Handed Compliment


For the record, I’m left handed, which also means the right side of my brain is dominant, which may explain my abilities with music and languages. On the down side, right brain dominant left handed people are more prone to certain negative things, such as alcoholism. Left-handed people only make up 10% of the population but they make up a disproportionate amount of musical geniuses and other creative geniuses as well— for example, Mozart, Beethoven, Michelangelo, Da Vinci, Einstein I could go on all night. My first clue about such things is when I was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa at Carolina in 1973. We all had to go up to the podium and sign a register. What I noticed was that a good 30-40% of the people going up there signed with their left hands. One of the draw backs of being left handed has been caused in my lifetime by the deliberate shift in our education system to emphasis science and math. Nothing wrong with science and math, but that’s a left-brained thing, which gives right handed people an advantage. On the other hand, (and I mean that literally), when I got to seminary and took Hebrew, which is written from right to left of course, it was the first language I found it easy to write, and impossible to smudge with my hand because I wasn’t dragging the meat of my hand across the letters just written.

Unfortunately, in Western society, left-handedness has not only been discouraged (my third grade teacher tried to force me to learn how to write right. Fortunately, I broke my right arm when this was going on—just kidding about the fortunately part). So much has there been a prejudice against ‘left’ handedness that the Latin word for left is sinistra from which we get sinister. In English the word left comes from the Anglo-Saxon lyft which means weak or broken! What????? Eskimos believe that every single left-handed person is a potential sorcerer. In Morocco actually, left-handers are considered to be a s’ga, which is a word meaning either a devil or a cursed person. During the Spanish Inquisition, those who were lefties were far more likely to be tortured.

Sitting at a king’s right hand was the favored position, and still today we talk about someone being ‘my right hand man’. Sometimes a person has been thought to be a wizard or a witch, and treated as such just because they used the left hand. On the bright side, left-handed athletes tend to have an advantage because there are so few of them, that right handed persons have to adjust (e.g. a left handed pitcher).

Wedding rings are traditionally worn on the third finger of the left hand, because it was thought that there was a vein in that finger that was the vein of love, which went straight to the heart. It was also thought left-handed people were more amorous and emotional. Scientists believe that lefties work through their emotions in a different way than right handers and this causes a more extreme reaction to occur.

Interestingly, left handed people are seldom just mediocre when it comes to intelligence. Of the 10% or so of left handed people in the world, the bulk of them will be considered closer to genius or mentally impaired than they will be to just ‘average’. This especially applies if the sort of intelligence being measured has to do with creativity, languages, writing, musical ability, in short right brained stuff.

Sadly, on average a left-handed person tends to live about nine years shorter than a right-handed person. Left-handedness may or may not be genetic, because it seems to run in families— for example the British royal family—Queen Mother, Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Charles, and Prince William.! Left-handedness is twice as likely in the case of twins. Women who have their first child in their 40s are 128% more likely to have a left-handed child, than a woman who has her first child at 20! No one is sure why.

In short, there are advantages and disadvantages to being a lefty. I’ve never felt ‘left’ out, and since I don’t believe the Bible affirms the rapture, I’m not worried about being ‘left behind’ either.

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