When Did You Know?

Posted: March 31, 2014 in Misc

Approximately 13% of the worlds’ population is left handed. Is it a choice? Or are people born this way? Do you realize that is 1.3 people for every 10 people you pass? It has only been in the past couple of generations that some societies have developed left-handed tolerance. The annual celebration of Left-handers Day on August 13 began in 1992 to bring awareness to the disadvantages of living in a right-handed world.

For centuries cultures around the world have feared and reviled persons of the left-handed persuasion; the Incans viewed left-handedness as a curse from the devil. Even today in parts of Africa and the Far East the left hand is considered unclean. Christianity reveres the right hand as the “Strong hand of God;” Catholic, Anglican and priests of other denominations present communion with the right hand, deliver benedictions with the right hand, and perform baptisms with the right hand while praying for God’s help to fulfill the holy covenant. There are 25 references to left-handed dominance in the Christian Bible, and each of them is negative.

As a righty I don’t experience these slights and difficulties; I don’t understand what daily life is like in a world not built for me. So I reached out to someone that faces these trials daily; my 16 year old son.

When I asked him when he first realized he was left-handed, he got this scrunched up look on his face and said “I don’t know, I’ve just always been.” But then he went on to recall that he began to realize that he was different from the other kids when he was in first grade. Throughout the years, he wasn’t really treated differently by his teachers, but things WERE different. For example, when the class would play baseball in gym class there was no glove for his right hand; scissors, can-openers and notebooks have always been challenging for him; even American cars are designed for the right handed. But overall he says that he loves to be different, and being left-handed allows him to be different every day.

My son may be different from the majority of society, but he is in good company. Four of the past five Presidents have been left handed: current President Barack Obama, as well as former Presidents Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush, and Ronald Reagan. I had a moment to sit down with President Obama and ask him about his life as a leftie…just kidding. Although I did not actually speak with the President, there is a well-travel image that was doctored to appear as though he was saluting with his left hand, exemplifying the distrust and dishonor associated with the use of the left hand.

Though left-handed tolerance is growing, and even perhaps becoming posh in some circles, society tosses around misconceptions and phrases without even realizing the pain they can inflict. A “left-handed compliment” describes an insult delivered and a “left-handed wife” refers to a mistress. In 1991 Halpern and Coren published a scientific paper in the New England Journal of Medicine claiming that the life expectancy of a left-handed person was, on average, 9 years shorter than that of a right-handed person; this was the same statistic as a smoker at that time. They also speculated that neurological problems were more common in left-handers. Of course, these statements have since been debunked, but the point is these studies were released less than 25 years ago.

Whether you believe my son and others like him were born left-handed or not, remember that they matter.


  1. Debi DeLoach says:

    I’m a leftie myself … and I remember being in early elementary school and getting in trouble from the teacher because she said I turned my paper the wrong way to write on. I went home and told my Mom – who as a 3rd grade teacher herself, spent years teaching all kinds of children to write in cursive no matter what their handedness. She immediately called the school and said that whichever way I needed to turn my paper was the correct way and if they said differently again they would have an angry parent all up in their business!

    • RStorey says:

      I imagine it would be very hard to teach writing to opposite handed children, but to me it seems that is part of being a teacher. Good for your mom!

  2. Mythoughts76 says:

    My son is ambidextrous. He writes with his right hand and eats with his left. What does that mean?

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