The Curse of the Left Hand

It seems that everyone is born right-handed but only the strongest overcome it! This is a debate that knows no borders, because in the end no matter where you are, I must admit that life should not be easy for left-handed people!

  1. Since 1976, the Gauchers have had a day entirely dedicated to them in order to raise awareness against discrimination and stigmatization: August 13!
  2. Sinister/sinistra/sinistrum, Latin origin, originally meant “left” but took on meanings of “evil” or “unlucky” by the Classical Latin era, and this double meaning survives in European derivatives of Latin
  3. Sinistrophobia is the fear of awkwardness and everything on the left.
  4. During the witch hunts, being left-handed was sometimes considered enough to identify a woman as a witch and sentence her to execution.
  5. The 18th and 17th centuries will bear witness to the brutal methods deployed to suppress the use of the left hand and impose conformity in the education system: the binding of the left hand of children or inflicting corporal punishment on them. 
  6. The countries of the Soviet bloc continued to maintain strict policies against left-handedness until the 1970s. Spain, Italy, Yugoslavia and the Iron Curtain countries have all made the use of the right hand mandatory for writing in school. In Albania, left-handedness had been declared illegal and liable to criminal penalties.
  7. Discrimination persists in different languages around the world:
  • In Latin, right is said to be dextra, meaning useful, and the word for left is sinistra – hence the origin of “dexterous” (skilful) and “sinister” (sinister, left)
  • In French we say of someone that he is ‘gauche’ (left) when he is clumsy.
  • In Dutch “twee linkerhanden hebben” or “having two left hands” refers to clumsiness.
  • In Chinese, the adjective left (左; phonetic: zuǒ) sometimes means wrong or incorrect.
  • In Portuguese “acordar com o pé esquerdo” literally “to get up on your left foot” is a sign of bad humor.
  • In Russian, “левый” (left) means “forbidden” while “ходить налево” (“to go left”) means to deceive. “левая сумка” (“a left bag”) means counterfeit.

Then on the other side …

  1. Left Hand is a community that exists in West Virginia (USA) inhabited mainly by Left Handed people.
  2. Scouts use their left hand to greet each other. A distinctive sign that connects a large sibling around the world. But also because Lord Baden-Powell, the founder of the Scout movement was inspired by the Ashanti people. Only the bravest warriors shook their left hand as that meant lowering their shield and relinquishing their protection.
  3. History is filled with famous Lefties, in particular; Julius Caesar, Aristotle, Alexander the Great, Mahatma Gandhi, Joan of Arc, Napoleon Bonaparte, Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Charles and Barak Obama.
Barak Obama statue at Madame Tussauds, London

I agree… you have to be strong to be left-handed in a right-handed world. So much persecution in the name of conformism. Yet still we do need two hands to applaud? And if we think carefully, we can’t move forward together hand in hand, without the left hand … right? So let’s give the Lefties their rightful place!

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