Monday, May 14, 2012

Turn Left

I am part of a minority and have subsequently suffered years of prejudice and discrimination. It was institutionalised. From the moment I started school, when all of my teachers did not provide access to appropriate equipment and utensils, items that were afforded to my class mates.

I am left-handed

I  luckier than my left-handed forebears who had their left-handedness systematically beaten out of them. Literally. My parents generation and the generations before them hand their hands smacked by their educators if they dared use their left appendage, forcing them to become un-naturally right-handed. They apparently went on to become doctors.

Left-handedness is correctly known as “’sinistrality” derived from the Latin word for left but of course now meaning evil or unlucky. My Year 11 biology teacher also described it as a a deformity as it was not the majority.

The English language has embraced the synonymity of left and evil or unlucky.

Left overs are described negatively, just remember the shame of asking for a doggy bag when you can not finish the restaurant meal. Of course this is ignoring the wonder that is left over lasagne and casseroles where the flavours have completed their blending or the culinary delicacy that is cold pizza, pulled out of the fridge for breakfast after a big night the night before.

Most famously concert goers were told Elvis had left the building. Meaning all of the excitement and entertainment is now over. There is am implied disappointment for anyone remaining in the building hoping to catch one more glimpse of the King. Paraphrasing Rolf Harris’ Court of King Caractacus “you’re too late, because he’s just passed by”

Have you ever been left in the lurch, abandoned or in a position where there is no help or escape? It is not fun. It is also ironic as these situation usually do have a solution, it just requires logical thinking logic and reasoning – understood to be functions of the left side of the brain.

If you support the disadvantaged, equality and social change you will be derogatorily referred to as being a lefty. Because wanting change that leads to the betterment of the lives of people around you is to be belittled and ridiculed.

Mind you, there is something to be said for wanting structure, to maintain order in a free and competitive society.

When people, particularly those supposedly working together are found to not only not be working together but apparently working against each other it is said that the left hand does not know what the right hand is doing. Implying that the left hand is disorganised and unintelligent.

In a similar vein out of left field is often used to describe events or ideas that were surprising or unexpected – translation unwanted and weird.

People who live with the affliction of being left handed may be teased throughout life as being “cacky handed”, implying they are clumsy, awkward and inappropriate. Cack comes from the Latin cacĂ„re meaning defecate. Which leads to perhaps the greatest insult for my left handed brethren. The reason the world shakes hand with the right hand is that the left hand was historically used to wipe the bottom after ablutions, well before the invention of toilet paper.

Gay marriage rights, indigenous land rights, free speech rights, all trivialities what we should be protesting for is lefts rights.

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