Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Right Makes Might
One of the nun horror stories I am often questioned about is why nuns had a problem with left handed children. Back in the day it was entirely common for school teaching nuns to swoop in on the lefties with all kinds of barbaric methods to try to get them to puttheir little pencils in their right hands.
As a child in school myself, I felt very sorry for these poor unfortunates because if some nun came flying down the aisle to try to make me change hands, I couldn't have done it to save my life. I'll bet there were children who did think their lives depended on switching hands. I sometimes thought my future would depend on my mastery of the perfect Palmer method.
Which was a silly way to write, if you ask me. As I recall, we weren't supposed to move our fingers at all while writing, but roll our forearms around on the desk, pens in hand. Those were those old timey pens, too, the kind in which you had to load a cartridge. It was a crazy enough way for anyone to try and write with the hand God intended for them to write, let alone the wrong hand while trying to learn cursive with a drippy pen.
Why were the nuns so adamant that children change hands? I'm sure the nuns had not clue one. Maybe they were aware that the world is made for right handed people--scissors, gear shifts, can openers, etc. They were teaching what they were taught without question as to why children should be forced to be right handed.
What they probably didn't know was that the real reason people originally tried to grab pencils out of the hands of the left handed was that way, way back in the day, people who were left handed were thought to be possessed by the devil.
Where did anyone ever get that idea? The idea that right is good has always been around. The best seat in heaven is on the right. The goats went left and the sheep went right in the Bible. The word "right" also means "true" and "noble". The list of things that are right and good goes on an on.
Left is just....two left feet.
The English word sinister comes from the Latin word sinestra, which originally meant "left". The devil tempts you from your left shoulder and baptizes his minions with his left hand. Probably just to be contrary.
I wouldn't have given any of this another thought, except for the occasional question from a traumatized left handed former child, until last Wednesday, when Sister St. Aloysius broke her arm in three places, bone sticking out of the skin style. I believe that's called a compound fracture.
Her right arm.
She's very calm about it. As she is usually not a calm person, I would guess her mellow mood is from the Vicadin that was prescribed to her after her surgery to glue her arm back together with plates and pins.
I am not calm about it. For one thing, the whole event made me want to faint. And now, I'm her right arm.