I am writing this letter to you, as well the administration of Oakes Elementary School in Okemah, Oklahoma, as a left-handed adult who stands in solidarity with young Master Sands. For the record, my salutation of this boy as “Master” instead of “Mister” is correct from both a grammatical and etiquette standpoint. Does that mean I am evil because I am left-handed, or because I’m more tuned in to salutation etiquette?
You told this boy, who wishes to learn, and create, and do everything youths his age wish to engage in, that using his left hand for his work is “evil” and “sinister.” Now, there are always two sides to every story, but I cannot help that feel your ability to say this is, at the very least, an indirect result of a climate of reactionary political thought in the State of Oklahoma. Having met and known many highly intelligent Oklahomans over the years, I trust that you are in the minority of folks who embrace this notion, which is rooted mainly in superstition, and supported by outdated interpretations of scripture.
That being said, where on earth is your sense of humanity? Do you not realize this is 2015, not 1015? Granted, we are going through a bout of hyper-conservatism with regards to education in this country, but even the most religious individuals I know would never compel a student use their right hand when it is their left which is dominant. There is also no more correlation between left-hand dominance and dishonesty, criminal behavior, and antisocial behavior than there is between eye color and intelligence. Any sort of alleged “evidence” has been proven to be based on junk science and superstitious nonsense.
Of course, there are some things which left-handers are associated with which are considered “out of the ordinary” to many. We lefties tend to be more artistic, more creative, more charismatic and far more adaptive than our right-handed brethren. This has been associated, through extensive research in the field of neuroscience, with right-brain function. Left-brain dominance is responsible for problem solving, logic and more traditional methods of thinking, where right-brain dominance is responsible for creativity and artistic talent. Yes, left-handers use the right hemisphere of the brain, whereas right-handers use the left hemisphere. Of course, based on your superstitious, medieval postulation, that would mean that while left-handers commit the evil, it is right-handers, who are dominant in the left-hemisphere, who actually conceive of the evil. After all, if it is the hand which commits, isn’t it the mind which conceives? As a teacher, I do hope you see where I’m going with this.
My mother is a leftie, and proud of it. Of all the things which my mother is devout in from a religious standpoint, she was not foolish enough to fall for this breed of ignorance. She actually insisted I promise to tell her the moment anyone attempted to force me to write with my right hand. Indeed, going to Catholic school in my early teens, I had heard of some nuns who had actually espoused this belief and used the “rap the knuckles” technique to end what they saw as “intellectual possession.” I was fortunate to never run across such idiocy in my days in school, though I had heard stories of attempts to “correct” left hand dominance. I am grateful I never witnessed any such incident.
As an aspiring educator myself, it is good to know that such foolishness as yours still exists in this world so I can be aware of it and help to eliminate it. This young man deserves the opportunity to grow up with wonderful memories of learning, not early memories of being equated to the spawn of Satan. It would behoove you to learn more about the real world of left-handedness, the challenges we face as a genetic group, and the triumphs which so many of us have achieved. Did you know that President George W. Bush, considered the political standard bearer for the Evangelical Christian movement, is left-handed? So was the late Ronald Reagan! You wouldn’t associate the man considered responsible for ending the “Evil Empire” of the Soviet Union with “evil,” would you? Of course not!
Please, I implore you to think about what you said to this young man and, at the very least, apologize for your words to him. If you are unable to do so, I strongly recommend you consider a life outside the realm of public education in the United States, as this mentality is the sort of thing one would associate with the Salem Witch Trials, not the United States of America of the 21st Century.
Thank you for your time and attention. This left-hander appreciates your ear.
John E. Guzzardo
Left-Handed Author, Writer, Worker, and American