A Right-Handed World?

canstockphoto0664686My parents had three sons, and two of us are left-handed. Neither of my parents are left-handed, so what are the odds that their first two sons would be left-handed? Somewhere between 90-93% of people are right-handed, so the odds have got to be extraordinarily small. Yet here we are.

Hand orientation can be detected in unborn children by observing which hand is predominantly licked or held close to the mouth, indicating that hand orientation is genetic or at least influenced by prenatal factors.

Researchers have located one gene that seems to be linked to a tendency toward left-handedness.

Some researchers think that high levels of testosterone in the womb can lead to left-handedness.

Yeah. Real men are left-handed.

Most left-handed people do some activities right-handed, and many show some forms of ambidexterity. For instance, when I play racquet sports such as tennis or racquetball, I feel comfortable holding the racquet in either hand.

I’m equally bad no matter which hand I use.

OK, maybe that’s a bad example.

But being left-handed in a right-handed world forces us to learn how to do some things right-handed just to make it. I’ll be you never realized that all cameras are right-handed. All the main controls are on the right side; there are no cameras made with the controls on the left side.

The same goes with video cameras; that’s why the videos of our kids are a little more shaky than other people’s. That’s what I told my wife when she complained.

She bought it so I’m sticking with it.

Since most of the people who teach us to do things are right-handed, then especially in those things we learn to do by imitation, we’ll do those things right-handed.

My brother and I both play the guitar right-handed, through no choice of our own. Though they make left-handed guitars, they usually have to be special-ordered. Because of the way that a guitar is braced you can’t just reverse the strings, so most left-handers just play it like everyone else. It probably helps us since our more dominant hand is doing the more complicated work on the fretboard.

What’s interesting about my brother and me is that everything he does right-handed, I do right-handed. He throws left-handed but bats right-handed; so do I. He kicks with his right foot; so do I. (Being left-handed generally, but not always, means you are also going to be left-footed or, more accurately, left-sided.)

In my adult years this has caused me to wonder whether I’m naturally left-handed or whether I became so by imitating Mickey, who is 2½ years older. It’s possible we both bat right-handed because Dad didn’t know how to teach his left-handed sons how to bat left-handed, but it’s not out of the question that even as a toddler I was striving to be just like my older brother in every way, so if he did something left-handed, then that’s what I did, and if he did it right-handed, so did I.

I’ve come to think of handedness not as a binary state—you’re either right- or left-handed, one or the other—but rather as a spectrum between two poles. Most people are completely right-handed, a few are completely left-handed, and right in the middle are those few people who are completely ambidextrous.

Along the rest of the spectrum are those who are predominately right-handed but do one or two things left-handed, and some, like me, who are predominately left-handed but do some things right-handed.

Maybe sexual orientation is similar; rather than being one or the other there is a spectrum of people between two poles, most completely heterosexual, some completely homosexual, and a variety of orientations in between.

I don’t know. I do know that we don’t really live in a right-handed world, we live in a world that is dominated by right-handedness. The real world, the one God made, is incredibly diverse.

It would seem that while humans like sameness and try to enforce uniformity, God likes variety. Looking at the diversity of creation, with all the different kinds of animals, and how life keeps changing and new species keep arising, it seems that God doesn’t care much for sameness.

He does care for unity, which is very different. Unity means we accept the differences among people.

That we not be afraid of people who are different.

That we don’t try to eliminate people who are different or try fit everyone into the same box.

Unity comes from the fact that we are all wondrously made by the same Creator, the one who delights in such a wonderfully diverse world.

I wish Christians would get this, especially those who have a public voice. They often say things that are so backward, so hurtful to people who don’t fit their definition of living or believing right.

You get the feeling that they are trying to force everyone to be “right-handed.”

Would the world be easier if everyone was “right-handed”? Maybe.

It would certainly be less interesting though.

Sameness is boring.

Diversity holds the promise of endless surprise.

I like being left-handed. It makes things interesting.

Image by © Can Stock Photo Inc. / scrivener

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