Friday, 6 June 2014

June 6, 2014 Chautauqua

Beth's Ponderings 

   I’m left-handed.

   Now, saying that in 2014, in North America, isn’t going to shock anyone.  We joke about it now - I’m in my “right” mind.  

   But, it wasn't always like that.

   In days of old, left-handedness was seen as evil, a sin, or a sign of witchcraft, and the poor folks who used their left hand were persecuted by the Church, which claimed Biblical authority for their actions against left-handed people.  Seems they missed that one of the Hebrews’ great judges was a leftie. (Judges 4:15)

  At best, the “offender” would have their left hand cut off. Often, though, their punishment was death - by drowning, burning at the stake, hanging, or drawn-and-quartering.

   In the early 1900s folks became more enlightened about the concept of left-handedness, so rather than killing lefties, they forced them to use their right hand.

   This led to generations of mixed up left-handed folks.  Not so much because they had to physically use a different hand - humans have two hands and are remarkably able to use either if the situation calls for it - but rather because of the continued use of shame and degradation heaped on them for being “different” and not conforming to the norm.

   Even  as current as the early 1990s, one could find articles in prominent newspapers around the continent saying that left-handed people were a menace to society and should not be allowed operate macinery , or drive as they cause more accidents. Not true...making left TURNS causes more accidents than left-handed drivers.

   Being left-handed is a very intrinsic part of me and affects virtually everything I do from the moment I wake up till I go to bed at night.  Yet, I don’t go around introducing myself thus: “Hi!  I’m Beth and I’m left-handed.”  It doesn’t even come up unless I see someone else writing with their left hand, and even then it is only mentioned in passing.

   So, if left-handedness is such an accepted part of every day life, why do we, as a society, continually persist in shaming people who live differently from what we have deemed the “norm” to be?  Why do we, as a society, insist they have to change who they are to be accepted by us?


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