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A Left-Handed Compliment

Perhaps you are sinister.

No, I don’t mean you’re a vile person who is out to destroy the world. After all, you’re probably not a Republican.

Woops — just kidding, my GOP friends!

Ahem… yeah… anyway.

I’m talking about the original meaning of the word “sinister,” which was a Latin phrase (“sinistra”) that originally meant “left” or “left-handed” but took on the meaning of “evil.”

This trend is seen in many languages. For example,


“Left” in German (“linkisch”) also means “awkward”

“Left” in Russian (“levja”) is associated with being untrustworthy

Synonyms for “left” in Mandarin are things like “weird,” “incorrect,” and “wrong”

The truly French word “gauche” originally meant “left”

And the very word “left” comes from “lyft,” which meant “broken.”


You get the picture. Being a leftie has often been associated with myriad unfavorable traits. And in the olden days, left-handers were often coerced to use their right hand, in some cases even having the offending limb tied down to immobilize it.

Hell, never mind the olden days. Even here in 2018, about “two-thirds of the world still hates lefties.” You see, “in many Muslim parts of the world, in parts of Africa as well as in India, the left hand is considered the dirty hand, and it’s considered offensive to offer that hand to anyone, even to help.”

And of course, it’s tough for you southpaws to pick up a guitar, baseball glove, or pair of scissors without getting frustrated.

All of this comes despite the complete lack of scientific evidence that there is anything wrong with being left-handed, and with plenty of anecdotal evidence that we’ve had our fair share of high-achieving lefties.

So what does all this mean?

Well, it means that, on some level, humans actively look for reasons to hate one another. Yes, life is hard enough with natural obstacles and unforeseen bad breaks and outbreaks of cultural stupidity. We apparently have to make it even more difficult by honing in on the slightest deviance — like being left-handed — and piling on the fear and loathing for absolutely no good goddamn justification.

Which leads us back to the prevalence of racism. 

Will it even be eradicated?

That is, of course, highly unlikely. And even if we did somehow achieve ethnic and racial nirvana, where differences were celebrated and never a cause for distrust or violence, we would find some way to fuck it up.

I don't know — probably the small-nostriled people would oppress the large-nostriled people. Or people who like spicy food would get into fistfights with people who don’t. Or some other infinitesimal difference would become grounds for superiority and anger.

Hating on left-handers just proves that people will discriminate against any minority — for the smallest, oddest rationale, and for the tiniest infraction or deviance from the majority. 

But then again, let’s just remember this:

According to the Bible, the angel who sat at God's left-hand side was Lucifer. 

Well, that settles it.


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