Friday, March 27, 2009

Being different

The other day, I heard someone on television say that only nine percent of the population are left handed. I remember another someone at my first General Convention some thirty years ago submitting a resolution asking that we remove all references in the Book of Common Prayer that discriminate against left handed people, too. I thought it was a strange request.

But there have been times, recent times, when those who are left handed have been persecuted. When I was a child, many teachers would try to force them to conform, to be just like all of us normal people who, sensibly and correctly, wrote with their right hands. Changing what is natural and right for a left handed person is cruel and unjust. I don't think it happens anymore but I don't know for sure. I'm not left handed so I don't keep up with left handed discrimination. It doesn't make the news.

But other kinds of discrimination do make the news, particularly gay/lesbian discrimination. The gay/lesbian population is said to be roughly ten percent of the overall population. There are more gays than left handers! And we know there are lots of programs that claim to reorient or "heal" these people. We know they are treated differently, looked on as deviants from the norm. They are, in short, persecuted.

Being left handed and being gay may sound like an apples/oranges comparison. While it is possible to choose to be left handed - I mouse with my left hand thanks to carpal tunnel in my right, for instance - it is terribly difficult to completely reorient one's entire life to left hand dominance. We are born right or left handed. Parents watch their children from a very early age to see which hand will be dominant. Right handed parents may have left handed children and vice versa. They cast back in their family histories trying to remember who else was left handed. "Where did Jimmy get that trait?" they will ask just as the short parents of a tall kid will wonder where she got her height.

So why, then, don't we treat being gay/lesbian like we do being left handed? Or tall? Or green-eyed? Why do we single out this ones genetic trait as being the worst of the worst when, in fact, they are all merely the ways our genetic soup happens? I know the answer, of course, but it makes me sad. For all of our intellectual advances in the last 100 years, we are still small minded people. I wish it weren't so.


Andy Olivo said...

Thanks for the great post. I was reading a blog that is written by a RC nun some time ago and she was talking about how when she was in school the sisters tried to force the children to write with their right hands. I had never heard of this before--crazy!

Good post.

Ray Flanary said...

Thank you Margaret! As one of those who is "different" I applaud your comment.