Journal Express, Knoxville, IA

Opinion

March 8, 2013

Being left is all right

“Two wrongs don’t make a right, but three lefts do.” – Eric Parslow

Whether you’re turning a corner or signing your name, being left is hardly ever right. That’s because lefties are in the minority. Only about 10 percent of the population is left-handed.

At my house that computes to one out of six. Some of the time. More on that later.

Left-handedness tends to run in families, but not ours. At least not in the traditional, legalistic sense. I am a righty, through and through. We all are. My husband, his parents and siblings, my parents and siblings, our children – all northpaws, except for one son who writes with his non-right hand.

Various theories involving techniques of caveman hunters, left-brain, right-brain thinking and ancient artwork all hypothesize why the hand usage thing is so skewed. Even the majority of chimpanzees are right-handed, so it’s not a uniquely human mystery.

My son is in good company. There are lots of smart and successful left-handers – outside of baseball, even. Three of the last four U.S. presidents have been lefties. Albert Einstein and Leonardo (da Vinci, not DiCaprio) were southpaws. Even Bart Simpson is left-handed. At least he’s drawn that way.

Fame and fortune aside, left-handedness has not always been an accepted trait. In days gone by, back when the schoolmarm slapped student’s hands with a wooden ruler, left-handed children were taught (sometimes forced) to use their right hand. (They don’t call them the good old days for nothing.)

While we no longer coerce left-handed children to follow the right-handed path and instead accept their journey on the road less traveled, the intricacies of our language make one wonder. If you describe something as out in left field, it is strange, or off course. A person can be left for dead, in the lurch, out in the cold, holding the bag and in the dark – none of them desirable. And we all understand no child wants to be left behind. Ever.

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