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Left and right

What’s it like being a lefty in a world designed for righties?


I had two hours to kill at Shirley Chisholm State Park with my grandson and was watching his hands and wondering if he will be right-handed or left-handed.

Right-handedness would seem the better option because that’s what most people are. And whether there be white privilege or no, there is certainly right privilege.

If you’re fresh out of causes to agitate for, with the election now past, you might consider “systemic anti-left-handerism” as your rallying cry. Unlike the LGBT community, whose numbers are soft (Are they 1 percent of the population, or 75 percent, as seems by their political clout?), left-handedness holds steady and in perpetuity at 10 percent. Your campaign will never go out of business.

I discern in this arrangement a deeper spiritual lesson which God means to teach.

Some things that work against left-handed people (which I am woke to because my husband is a southpaw) are can openers, notebooks, scissors, power saws (which he uses a lot), and pill counting trays (which he doesn’t use yet). Is there a party I can register to join to counter that?

But do I really want my grandson to grow up with an easy life? My friend Lynn once wisely said, “You can’t grow up well-adjusted unless you have something to adjust to.” So might a manual challenge be just the ticket to make him stronger? Remember the song “A Boy Named Sue” in which the adversity of an unfortunate moniker worked to toughen its bearer?

On the other hand, being born in 2020 in a pandemic and in Brooklyn, to boot, may be character-building enough. Which makes me lean again toward right-handedness.

Will he have the good fortune to be a baseball player? A robust 25 percent of Major Leaguers have dominant left hands. There are a few reasons for this. One is that because of the statistical occurrence of left-handedness in the general population, your Little Leaguer has only one-tenth of his formative batting experience against left-handed pitchers.

Other reasons: Right field in most parks is shorter than left field (benefiting lefties at the plate). Also, left-handed batters can see the ball leave the pitcher’s hand before right-handed batters. If they connect with the ball, their momentum is already in the direction of first base (they will arrive one-sixth of a second earlier). For pitchers, left-handedness makes them harder to steal off of.

What I have noticed while pondering hand dominance, to the glory of the wisdom of God, is that even though my right hand is more capable, my left hand is not absolutely useless, which God could have ordained it to be. Indeed, it is just useful enough to be a valuable asset to my right hand, which it humbly serves in most of its projects. (The principle is true in reverse for my husband.)

I discern in this arrangement of dominance and subservience a deeper spiritual lesson which God means to teach. Built into the fabric of the created order is a synergy of unequally gifted agents that need each other (Ezekiel 39:3), and so must appreciate and not despise each other.

My husband must be gratified to find left-handers in the Bible. To be sure, most mentions of the two polarities in Scripture seem more favorable to the right (Matthew 25:33, 41). Nevertheless, Ehud is forever remembered for his role in fighting Israel’s enemies—and precisely because he was left-handed (Judges 3:15-22).

Right and left are, perhaps more than anything else in our national consciousness, labels for political preferences. The terms hail from the French Revolution, where voting assembly members favoring the king (authoritarianism) were asked to sit on the right, and those favoring revolution (libertarianism), on the left.

But it gets confusing, doesn’t it? Isn’t the current American “right” against authoritarianism and the freedom-squelching of big central government? And isn’t our American “left” against the liberty of a man’s own expression of opinion?

I leave such thorny paradoxes to my betters. Let me ask safer questions, like why the Netherlands has one of the highest prevalences of left-handedness. Who knows, maybe someday my grandson can get a Ph.D. resolving that.


Andrée Seu Peterson

Andrée is a senior writer for WORLD Magazine. Her commentary has been compiled into three books including Won't Let You Go Unless You Bless Me. Andrée resides in Philadelphia, Penn.

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Janet B

Though left-handers are about 10% of the general population, they come in at around 50% of people with dyslexia, a genetic learning difference which makes reading and spelling difficult unless taught the specific rules of the written language, but also provides a greater amount of talent in the arts, technology, entrepreneurship, and general thinking-outside-the-box.
And since research shows that around 20% of the general population in the US have dyslexia, I think the figures pretty well add up!
I can't speak for the Netherlands, but it has been shown that certain geographical areas that are small and or isolated, with smaller amounts of new genetics introduced (think islands), have a higher rate of dyslexia.

Janet B

Though left-handers are about 10% of the general population, they come in at around 50% of people with dyslexia, a genetic learning difference which makes reading and spelling difficult unless taught the specific rules of the written language, but also provides a greater amount of talent in the arts, technology, entrepreneurship, and general thinking-outside-the-box.
And since research shows that around 20% of the general population in the US have dyslexia, I think the figures pretty well add up!
I can't speak for the Netherlands, but it has been shown that certain geographical areas that are small and or isolated, with smaller amounts of new genetics introduced (think islands), have a higher rate of dyslexia.

Laura W

I've aspired to be like the men in 1 Chronicles 12:2 who trained enough to be able to use both hands well. :)