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Jerome Chisholm: A tribute to left-handers

Published:Wednesday | January 13, 2016 | 12:00 AM

'We want justice' is their cry. 'we want justice' is their plea.

For centuries, left-handers have suffered unfair discrimination in a world designed for right-handers. I am particularly interested in this topic because I have been a victim of such gross verbal abuse. Phrases such as "left hand crab toe," "clumsy," and "awkward" were the labels that were attached to me, this innocent lad who became left-handed during the stage when he was developing his fine-motor skills.

Myers asked the question in his article, "Left-handedness: Is being a Lefty All Right?" Such a profound question because society has attached a stigma to left-handers. In our society, most industrial products, electronic equipment, mechanical tools, and kitchen utensils are produced for right-handed people. Among these are right-handed desks; awkward scissors; being at a dinner table with right-handed table setting, something that may cause considerable problems for the left-handed.

Myers, in his book Exploring Psychology, writes that "almost 10 per cent (somewhat more among males, somewhat less among females) of the human population is left-handed". While there are only a small number of unique individuals who use their left hand, teachers are not very tolerant of them. For many years, teachers forced all children to write with their right hand even if they had a left-hand tendency. This has, however, changed in recent times. However, the use of the right hand is still encouraged.

Studies have shown that the origin of hand preference seems to be strongly influenced by genetic inheritance. If this is true, why should children go through the turmoil of being forced to used a hand that goes against their genetic make-up? Such things ought not to be so.



From a language point of view, the words right and left represent good and evil. This is clearly seen in Matthew 25:32-33: "And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left."

The sheep represent Christians who are good, and as such, they are placed on the right, in contrast to the goats, who represent sinners, and as such, they are placed on the left. Words like "righteous," "right mind/spirit/living" further validates how language is biased against left-handers in comparison to the term "left-handed business", which means illegal and immoral business.

Tests reveal that about 95 per cent of right-handers process speech primarily in the left hemisphere of the brain. Left-handers are more diverse. More than half process speech in the left hemisphere just as right-handers do. About one-quarter process language in the right hemisphere. the other quarter uses both hemispheres more or less equally. This leads me to highlight some of the interesting facts about left-handedness.

Left-handedness has often been associated with creativity, musicality, and artistic talent, and many of our most famous painters and successful people in culture and society are lefties. Left-handedness is also more common among mathematicians, professional baseball players, architects, and artists, including such luminaries as Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and Picasso. While it is true that there are many famous right-handers in society, left-handers are in a minority group, but we have managed to transcend the discrimination and have risen to the standards of right-handers and even surpassed them in some areas, in my opinion. We may be a minority, but we are felt and named among the majority in society.

I am a proud left-hander. I have had awkward moments with my left hand and been teased and laughed at. This is, however, in the past. While my emotions were not severely damaged, they could have been. Back then, I felt like I was using the wrong hand, but now, I am embracing my uniqueness, knowing that this is the way God has chosen to craft me.

What all this has taught me is that one's success does not rest on one's handedness, but one's willingness to work against the odds. The hand used does not define who you are. That is solely left up to the individual and what he allows to affect him.

Jerome Chisholm