We always love stories about left-handers who have made a
difference in their community or made some special contribution to
improving the lives of left-handers or awareness of left-handed
issues. We will use this page as a "gallery" of the best stories we
come across, so if you know about a lefty who has been a bit
special, please let us know.
Public Speaking - Nathan Shami
Out in Left Field
The Left-Handers Club member, 10 year old Nathan Shami is the
latest winner of The Royal Canadian Legion Zone public-speaking
Nathan's topic for a five-minute memorised oral presentation he had
to make in his 5th Grade class at St. Bernadette School in Sault
Ste. Marie, Ontario Canada, was the history of left-handedness and
the the perils of being a lefty in a righty world. Nathan used info
from our site together with material from other sources to write
his oral which we publish in full in the next
Nathan's oral was deemed one of the two best in his class and
his performance earned him the right to compete against all the
other Grade 4,5, and 6 age group at his school. He won there and
went on against the schools in the East Zone of the city, won
there, and went to the city wide competition and won there.
At these latter levels, the competitions are sponsored annually by
the Royal Canadian Legion veteran's association. Having won the
city wide title for his age group, he went on to compete against a
large zone of neighbouring communities and won there!
Then, Nathan went to the next level which took in a virtually all
of Northern Ontario, an area of many hundreds of thousands of
people, and finished a very close second.
|In any case, Left-handers Club is very proud to
know that somewhere in the wilds of Northern Ontario lives a boy
who feels special being left-handed. He has spoken eloquently about
the lefties plight before many and varied audiences. His
presentation was always engaging and drew comments from audience
members afterwards who were especially fascinated to learn that
many of our right handed customs derived from famous lefties in
order to give them the "upper hand".
Nathan's parents, Bob and Anne-Marie Shami told us: "Many
commented on how interesting his presentation was, to righty and
lefty alike. We are proud of our son but have to acknowledge that
his success would not have been possible without your input and
material to work from. Isn't the Internet making the world a
Nathan Shami: "OUT IN LEFT FIELD"
"Julius Caesar, Leonardo da Vinci, Napoleon Bonaparte,
Albert Einstein, Buzz Aldrin, Paul McCartney, and my Uncle Mike.
All of these people have something in common with me. Do you know
what it is? I'll give you a hint.
Has anyone ever said that you were so clumsy you must have two left
feet? Have you ever been insulted with a left-handed compliment, or
maybe you had left-overs for supper last night? You see, the
English language is full of expressions that are uncomplimentary
towards me and all the other people on that list. We are all part
of the 10% of the world's population who are left-handed.
Judges, teachers and parents, today I will speak to you about our
right-handed world and how it can sometimes leave us southpaws
feeling left out.
So why are 90% of people right-handed? It wasn't always this
way. Studies of stone-age tools show them to be equally divided
between right and left-handed. As tools became more sophisticated,
a hand preference had to emerge because it just wasn't
practical to make two sets of every tool. But why the preference
for the right-hand? One theory says that because the heart is on
the left side, your shield had to be in your left hand in order to
protect it. Therefore, any weapon had to be held in your right
hand, which then became the dominant hand.
Over time, everything became so right-handed, lefties were seen as
unnatural, the odd ones out, even evil. This can be seen in the
languages of many cultures around the world. In Latin, the word for
left is sinister, and the French word for left, gauche, refers to
awkward or clumsy behaviour.
Even the devil is thought to live over your left shoulder, while
Jesus is seated at the right hand of God. This is why we throw
spilled salt over our left shoulder. Salt was considered a good and
valuable thing, so spilling some brought bad luck unless you threw
some of it back into the devil's face.
Many right-handed customs developed over time. Curiously, many of
these were created by lefties to give them a sly advantage. Take
the handshake, a right-handed custom everywhere. This was invented
by the Romans. An extended right hand, the hand in which most
people held their weapon, meant that you had no intention of
harming the person you were meeting. This was only a custom - not
mandatory until Julius Caesar made it the law. Why? Caesar was
left-handed and wanted to keep his strong weapon hand free while
shaking hands. If everyone shook right-handed, this gave a lefty
like him the advantage in case he was greeting a secret
The hand most people used to hold their weapon even determined what
side of the road cars are driven on today. It started with European
foot travellers. They walked on the left side of the road, keeping
their right hand, in which they held their sword, closest to the
side of oncoming and possibly unfriendly travellers. Soon, everyone
travelled on the left. This tradition was ended in France by the
armies of Napoleon, France's famous left-handed general and
emperor. Instead, he made his armies march on the right. This way,
the sword in Napoleon's left hand was always between him and
approaching enemies. To this day, countries first colonised by the
French, like Canada, follow Napoleon's example and drive on
the right-hand side of the road. British countries still drive on
the left as they have always done.
But it's still mostly a right-handed world. Struggling with
buttons and right-handed scissors, or constantly smudging the ink
on my homework - well, that can be pretty annoying. But the poor
lefty who has to struggle with a right-handed power saw? Well he
risks losing more than just his composure!
At least left-handers aren't considered evil anymore. People
now realise it's not a bad habit to be left-handed,
it's just the way we are made. In fact, we are now seen to be
more accomplished in music and the creative arts. Not only that,
25% of NASA astronauts are left-handed.
So, in conclusion, I bet you'll never look at a left-hander
the same way again - RIGHT?"
Nathan Shami, January