Thursday, November 20, 2008

Southpaw Brothers

My parents had three sons, and two of us are left-handed. Neither of my parents are left-handed, so that are the odds that their first two sons would be? Somewhere between 90-93% of all 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, in such sports 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 bet 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. Same with video cameras. So we learn to take pictures right-handed, and the videos of our kids are a little more shaky than if we could use our dominant hand.

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. We had to, because, though they make left-handed guitars, they have to be special-ordered. I don't think I've ever seen a left-handed guitar in a music store. (Because of the bracing of an acoustic guitar, it's not just a matter of reversing the strings. Putting heavier strings where the bracing is designed for lighter strings will eventually result in cracking the guitar top.) Bill Kelley just turns the guitar upside-down and frets everything in reverse, but 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. (Yes, begin 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 cause d me to wonder whether I'm naturally left-handed or whether I became so by imitating Mickey, who is 2 1/2 years older. When I was little I always admired Mickey and wanted to be just like him. I still have the baseball glove Mickey used in Little League in Alabama; it got passed down to me, and I even used it playing intramural softball in college. Hand-me-down clothes never bothered me when I was little because I got to wear Mickey's clothes. Maybe 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 big 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.

Such is the power of influence, particularly with little kids. they watch, they imitate, they listen, then learn. As independent as each child is, they are not predominantly so. None of us are. We are influenced by other, and everything we do, everything we say, influences others for good or for bad.

I wish Christians would get this, especially those who make it on the news or get interviewed by Larry King. 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" like them. Wouldn't the world be easier if everyone was "right-handed?" Maybe. But it's not; and we are Christians, whom Paul called "a peculiar people," should be the last ones to insist that it should be.

I like being left-handed. It makes the world more interesting. and if I'm left-handed because I admired my older brother and wanted to be just like him, well, that's kinda cool too.

© 2008 Larry L. Eubanks

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