The Sinister Left

The Sinister Left, mixed media painting by Roger Vincent Jasaitis,
The Sinister Left

I am left-handed. While having my eyes examined recently I was pondering the nomenclature that the doctors use to differentiate the right and left eyes; OD stands for oculus dexter which is latin for “right eye” and OS stands for oculus sinister which is latin for “left eye”.  The use of sinister to designate the left eyeball caught my eye (pardon the pun).

I was born this way, it was not a conscious choice to be a lefty. Here is a link to some interesting facts about left-handedness. You’ll notice #4 reads; Some scholars note that left-handers may be one of the last unorganized minorities in society because they have no collective power and no real sense of common identity. Additionally, left-handers are often discriminated against by social, educational, and religious institutions. Social customs and even language set the left-hander apart as “different” and even “bad.”

It is hard enough that most tools are designed to be used by right-handers (everything from scissors to can-0peners to every type of power tool) but, you could even say the pen, for even writing itself is designed to be done by right-handers. It isn’t so bad now with quick-drying inks, but I think Leonardo Da Vinci got tired of having ink all over his hands and so started writing in mirror script in his notebooks (from right to left). I even went so far as to teach myself right-handed calligraphy to avoid the mess….

So if left is so bad, why is it so pervasive in  our language with so many meanings? Perhaps we can change this historic perception?

The left-handed leftist left and there was nothing left to be said…