Saturday, March 21, 2009

Are We Not All Left-Handed?

All the jokes about 10 types of people aside, looking at the human species as a whole it's fairly obvious, even to the untrained observer, that there are fundamentally two types of people. For the sake of our discussion here, we will assign these types random variables: let's call them Type X and Type Y. (Some people claim there's a third type, who are biologically X but consider themselves Y, or vice versa, but we'll dismiss those claims offhand: these so-called "third types" are simply suffering from X/Y confusion.)

Biology affirms this simple division into Type X and Type Y on every level, from basic daily functions to certain cognitive, linguistic, and personality correlates of the divide. For example, Type X individuals tend to be more creative, and use both sides of the brain better, while Type Y individuals tend to rely more on the left side of the brain, home of logical, analytical thinking. Other differences are too numerous to list here, but, all in all, they affirm the unique natures of Types X and Y, and, moreover, how those types are different, distinctive, and complementary. It therefore follows that belonging to one of these types must be an essential pre-mortal characteristic, part of an individual's divine nature and destiny: God created us in his image, right-handed and left-handed.

Since the fall, human society has misinterpreted the true relationship between left-handers and right-handers, with the latter type unquestionably privileged: they have held all the power, made all the decisions, and designed all the manual implements, while left-handers have, for the most part, remained marginalized and powerless. Parents have actively hoped not to bear left-handed children, and this poor Type X has been seen as inherently less valuable or righteous, even in Christian societies. The Bible, for instance, focuses primarily on right-handed characters, consistently affirming God's love for and approval of them, whereas left-handed characters appear only infrequently and, as often as not, cast in a negative light. Through the ages, and across cultures, left-handed individuals have been closely associated with witchcraft and the devil, and there are instances of these individuals being burned at the stake simply due to the bad luck of having been born left-handed. These historical biases towards right-handed remain encoded in ordinary language, and even though we may strive to make our modern language use more sensitive and less handist, we may not even be aware of the histories of words like 'sinister' or 'gauche.'

In today's church, of course, we do not condone this cultural and historical baggage of the X/Y divide, but just the same, we do not condone entirely erasing the divide. The modern movements which claim that the virtue of equality requires a homogenization of all relationships are misguided. In the worldly philosophies of the equality of handedness, which encourages left-handers to abandon their traditional roles of sitting around helplessly and pursue such traditional right-handed pursuits as using scissors or running for president, our society has only found confusion, unhappiness, and the breakdown of all our most important institutions, like homogeneity of desk orientation in elementary school classrooms. Left-handers are equal, but they must stay separate.

Some argue that this emphasis on handed roles in the Church leads to functional inequity between the types, using as evidence the fact that the vast majority of Church leaders are right-handed, or that the Church has not only not repudiated scriptures like Matthew 25:33, which support the traditional association of right with righteousness and left with wickedness, but also incorporated the symbolism of these scriptures into sacred gospel ordinances, namely taking the sacrament. Those who argue this way are on the road to apostasy. Right-handers don't run the church just because of millennia of cultural and historical bias against left-handers, or because they are inherently more righteous or more beloved of God, despite what the scriptures seem to suggest, but because they are actually less righteous. Left-handers are not just equal to right-handers, they are superior! Left-handers can do what right-handers can never do, not in all eternity: their sacred ability to write Hebrew, the language of the Old Testament, without getting their hands smudged with ink, is the greatest of all divine missions, a sacred stewardship that right-handers could never hope to aspire to. A proper understanding of the role of the left-handers, and the nobility to be found within it, will bring peace and purpose to the lives of all those who embrace it.

(Amen.)

14 comments:

Maren said...

(snicker) Amen.

Logan said...

I knew something was afoot when it was asserted that Type X tends to be more creative : )

The Ugly Swan said...

What about the ambidextrous? Does God have a place for them, too?

(You maintain a crystalline brilliance.)

Th. said...

.

Why aren't you presenting this at Sunstone on Saturday?

Pinto said...

I. Love. You.

Megan said...

I'm so pleased. he he he.

ambrosia ananas said...

[grins]

Petra said...

Ugly Swan:

No. No, no, no, and, no. They're a perversion and a blight on the human race. But, um, we love them.

Th.

Way to rub it in! I've been wanting to go to Sunstone forever, but I'm in AZ this week for another conference.

Pinto:

The love is mutual. But forbidden!

Ginsberg said...

Oh great, another reason to feel "liberal guilt". Woe is me for being white, male, straight and right handed.

p.s. The bit about left-handers being more righteous than right-handers was hilarious. "When the Lord is looking for a bishop He looks for the most righteous, patient, humble and dedicated person in the ward and then calls that lefty's right-handed companion!" Shoot, that didn't really work. . .

daine said...

I clap for you and your post using only my left-hand.

Did we ever compare handedness in our group? I know I've done it a number of times in my life with various groups of my friends and have always been surprised that the lefties (myself included) outnumbered the righties. Isn't it supposed to be only 10% of the population?

Petra said...

Ginsberg--

I love nothing more than aggravating your liberal guilt. You're just so easy...

Daine--

No, I don't think we have, and I didn't even know you're left-handed. Which others of the Uncalled Four are?

Snoop said...

I want my two dollars...And by two dollars, I mean photos

Melyngoch said...

Today I learned the word ambisinistrous (clumsy; having too left hands.)

Melyngoch said...

/two