Friday, August 13, 2010

International Left-Handers Day: The Forgotten Holiday

President Obama is left-handed
It sometimes seems that there's a holiday for every occasion, even if very few people are aware that it exists.  Such is the case with "International Left-Handers Day," which has existed (if perhaps "celebrated" is to say too much) on August 13th every year since 1976.  Such is the lack of attention given to this day that, according to this 2006 piece from Washington Post writer Bill O'Brian, "the organization that started the movement is defunct."

Even though I myself am one of the 7-10% of the human population that is left-handed, I was unaware of the observance until just a few weeks ago.  Such a day deserves not to be forgotten!  People need to be aware that we're out there.  Although it's no longer as common as it was in my Dad's generation to force a child to use his or her right hand (we're actually pretty sure that my Dad is left-handed, but because he was pushed into right-handedness at such an age, we'll never be completely sure), the world still imposes right-handedness onto those of us who simply aren't all too often.  Many devices, for example, are constructed so as to be difficult for left-handed people to use with their naturally-dominant hands.  I remember being in elementary school, looking through the crafts box in vain, trying to locate one of the few "Lefty" scissors still in there, only to have to force my way through using the regular scissors to complete my project with less-than-stellar results.

Even today, when I go out to eat with a large group, I often make an effort to get one of the left-hand corner spaces at the table, so as to not bump elbows with a person eating right-handed to my left while I attempt to eat (my wife, happily, is left-handed as well, so we can still safely sit next to each other, provided that one of us has the necessary corner!).

I certainly don't want to make the case that left-handed people are oppressed in the same way that other minorities are oppressed (although O'Brian's somewhat tongue-in-cheek observations to this effect are quite interesting), but since we do have to make a not-insignificant number of sacrifices to live in a predominately right-handed world, I don't think it's asking too much to have the fact of left-handed accommodation recognized.

So, left-handed people of the world, unite!  This is your day!  More information (and a few links) can be found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Lefthanders_Day.

1 comment:

  1. My ten year old is left-handed. It was clear from the time she was 6 months that if she wanted something it was going to be with her left. I don't know what she would have done if we forced her to be right-handed like your dad.

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