Another Look by David Faust
Southpaws, get ready to celebrate. August 13, 2011 is National Left-Handers Day.
As a lefty myself, I find this news encouraging. After all, left-handers are a minority comprising less than 15 percent of the world’s population. Who wants to receive a “left-handed compliment”? The French word for left is gauche, which means “crude, awkward, lacking social experience or grace.” An honest man is called “upright,” not “upleft.” And the Latin word for the left side, sinister, sounds downright scary. By contrast, the Latin word for the right side is dexter, from which we get “dexterity.” If someone is “ambidextrous,” his hands are literally “both right.”
There are exceptions (like the tradition of wearing wedding rings on the left hand), but overall, from scissors to can openers, from dippers to cameras, from computer mice to pencil sharpeners, the world seems designed for the convenience of the right-handed majority. Most of the time we southpaws accept our lot in life and quietly choose to sit at the left corner of the table when guests gather for dinner.
It’s worthy of note that several U.S. Presidents, including George H. W. Bush and Barack Obama, have signed bills into law with their left hands. Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, and Charlemagne were left-handed. Neuro-scientists theorize that left-handers may have a special knack for creativity. (Think of lefties Leonardo da Vinci, Benjamin Franklin, Helen Keller, Ringo Starr, and Jay Leno.) Left-handed star athletes include basketball’s Bill Russell, tennis’s John McEnroe, and baseball’s Sandy Koufax. Yet, the left-handed minority also includes the Boston Strangler, Jack the Ripper, and the insufferable cartoon character Bart Simpson.
The Bible associates the mighty hand of God with his right side. “The LORD’s right hand is lifted high; the LORD’s right hand has done mighty things!” (Psalm 118:16). Brothers and sisters in Christ extend to each other “the right hand of fellowship” (Galatians 2:9), for somehow “the left hand of fellowship” just doesn’t have the same ring to it.
A 2005 ABC News report actually claimed, “Statistics show left-handed people are more likely to be schizophrenic, alcoholic, delinquent, dyslexic, and have Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, as well as mental disabilities. They’re also more likely to die young and get into accidents.” That’s bad news for us southpaws, although the report offered little hard evidence to substantiate such disturbing claims. The good news? Lefties “may have higher health risks,” the report went on to observe, but they enjoy the “element of surprise”—a handy thing, I suppose, if you happen to be a boxer, a magician, or a party planner.
The element of surprise helped an Israelite hero in the days of the Judges. “Again the Israelites cried out to the LORD, and he gave them a deliverer—Ehud, a left-handed man” (Judges 3:15). Ehud strapped a sword to his right thigh and concealed it under his clothes before gaining a private audience with Eglon, the king of Moab. At the opportune time, Ehud grabbed the sword with his agile left hand and plunged it into the king’s belly—a violent scene made more picturesque by the added detail that Eglon “was a very fat man” and the fat closed over the blade and handle of the sword (vv. 16-22). The brave-hearted lefty Ehud led the Israelites to overcome their Moabite oppressors, and “the land had peace for eighty years” (v. 30).
The book of Judges mentions some other heroic southpaws as well: 700 left-handed slingshot experts who “could sling a stone at a hair and not miss” (20:16).
No matter which hand we favor, we’re wise to remember what the Lord told Joshua: “Do not turn from [God’s Word] to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go” (Joshua 1:7).
Even a lefty can see that’s right.
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