Human beings, by and large, are not a very gracious lot. In an outrageously large number of historical instances, they have lived up to their potential of acting in contemptuous and downright brutal ways against fellow human beings who, by sheer chance, happened to be born in what was perceived to be the incorrect religious, ethnic or socio-economic stream, amongst other things. But religious bigotry, ethnocentrism, classism, chauvinism and other such supremacist tendencies are now, thankfully, being criticized and vilified in popular discourses. Contrariwise, when it comes to the systemic and deliberate disparagement of people naturally born left-handed, the same kind of moral outrage is rarely, if ever, evoked. But it needs to be articulated – coupling a staunch conviction with collective responsibility, to recover what can be a miserable state of affairs for left handed human beings, at times.

In an environment where the misplaced and gross oversimplification that “the human project has reached a level of civilization never ever been attained before” sells like hotcakes and provides humans a false sense of security, why care about the perils of being a left-hander? The skeptic will stop right here, argue that a mountain is being created out of a molehill and point towards more immediate problems in the world that need to be sorted out. But consider this - approximately, one in every ten persons in the world is left handed and archaeological evidence suggests that this has been the case for at least the last five hundred thousand years. Considering the sheer number of our fellow beings who were designed to be left handed by the laws of nature, we ought to care. Moreover, handedness, contrary to conventional wisdom, is an inborn trait, and not a choice, nor something that can be easily acquired via conditioning.

Forcing children to switch their hands, from the left to the right, can lead to learning disorders, stuttering, dyslexia, and other terrible speech disorders. Considering that most hand switches, enforced by tyrant elders, are in the left-to-right direction, and never vice versa, we ought to care. Considering every instance where a left handed child was subjected to violence, shamed mercilessly or punished in a group setting for acting upon the innocent inclination to use the naturally ordained hand while learning the basics of handwriting, we ought to care. Considering the amount of dinner tables, where a bigot, speaking out of an archaic religious or cultural bias, ridiculed a participant for employing the “evil left hand” to eat food and did not withdraw the demands until a hand-switch was put into effect, we ought to care. When left handers write, the ink smudges in most popular scripts due to an awkward hand position and teachers with parochial attitudes attached to ‘neat handwriting’ grade them less for it. Scissors, writing utensils, kitchen items and computer hardware (such as the mouse) are exclusively made for the righties, and lefties are often left frustrated. Approximately five thousand left handers, literally, die every year as a direct consequence of using industry equipment designed primarily for right handed use. But, as always, the arrogance of humans kicks in and it attempts to conquer and perfect nature.

Historically, being left handed was likened to being in league with the devil. This has been a cross cutting theme amongst most cultural settings in the world where the left hand was reduced to menial tasks such as cleaning up one’s self in the toilet. In many languages, left handedness has pejorative connotations – such as clumsy, awkward, unlucky, insincere, sinister and malicious, etc. A left handed compliment is actually an insult, a left handed marriage is an adulteress sexual liaison and a left handed wife is actually a mistress, in common English parlance.

The situation is not all that grim, however. Being a minority to begin with, lefties have a surprise advantage in certain situations, such as competitive sports or combat, where most of their right handed opponents find them awkward to negotiate with. Pakistanis have the left arm swing wizardry of Wasim Akram to thank for the infamous World Cup win in 1992 where his clever bowling in the awkward corridor of uncertainty outside the off stump created havoc for batsmen. Lionel Messi’s impeccable close control while dribbling at the speed of light is also enhanced due to him being left footed. Moreover, twenty percent of all MENSA members are lefties, which may even suggest that left handed individuals are more intelligent. Famous left handed individuals include Albert Einstein, Aristotle, Barack Obama, Benjamin Franklin, Bob Dylan, Charles Darwin, Fidel Castro, Friedrich Nietzsche, Isaac Newton and Jimi Hendrix, amongst others. The 13th of August is officially known as the International Left Handers Day, and it celebrates left handedness while raising awareness concerning the difficulties left handers face on an everyday basis in a world that was styled to better suit the needs of the predominantly righty landscape. Righties are made to perform simple tasks with their left hands so they can better appreciate the lefty curse.

Slightly tangential, but if you are curious as to whether your baby is going to be a lefty, take a close look at your ultrasounds. Studies show that almost 90% percent of babies in the womb seem to favor the right thumb, which is nearly the same percent of righties in the world today. Also, in a study, when babies were placed on their stomachs, right handed babies turned their heads to the right while left handed babies either favored the left side or put their heads to either side, without preference. If you doubt these studies, just wait for your baby to show his/her natural inclination, and if there is a predominance of the left hand, relax. It would be a great disservice to force a hand switch, and you might curtail the child’s creative growth by adding unnecessary impediments. Take pride in what has been naturally ordained to the child. And let the poor soul be.