Centuries ago, many baseless superstitions dominated many of the world’s cultures. Most have been dismissed over the years, but a few remain such as not walking under a ladder or having a black cat cross your path.
It’s easy to understand how many superstitions got started. For instance owls being the omen of death. My dad was born in 1921 in a poor farming area of southern Illinois. When he was only 5 years old, his mom, a local school teacher, died at home of tuberculosis. He says he recalls seeing a great horned owl perched in the big tree just outside his mom’s bedroom. The owl appeared the day before his mom died and flew off the day after she died. Dad was not superstitious but he said that he understood how superstitions like that get started when things like that happened.
Another superstition that dates back to centuries long ago is equating left handedness with evil. Many depictions of Satan show him as being left handed, but that does not mean that being left handed is evil. The people who use that argument also forget that the Bible described Satan as being the most beautiful and wondrous looking of all the angels, but we don’t equate beauty with evil in the same way as being left handed.
I know lots of people that are left handed who are not evil and I know too many people that are right handed that are as evil as sin, so there is no merit to the superstitions surrounding left handed people.
But try to convince one Oklahoma preschool teacher of that.
Zayde Sands is four years old and attends preschool at Oakes Elementary School in Okemah, Oklahoma. It happens that Zayde is left handed. One evening, his mother Alisha noticed that he was struggling with his homework because he was trying to write right handed. When she inquired, her son held up his left hand and said it was his evil hand.
Alisha sent a note to Zayde’s teacher about him being left handed and the teacher telling him that his left hand was evil. She received a response from the teacher that she described as being outrageous. Attached to a reply was an article posted in 2011 on PediatricEducation.org titled: When Will I Know Which Hand She Will Use? which stated:
“In many western cultures, right-handedness was/is considered the ‘correct’ or ‘right’ hand to use, and left-handedness was unlucky or inauspicious. The word ‘sinister,’ meaning left-sided, derives from various sources as early as the 15th century. There are numerous cultural examples of left-handedness being associated with the idea of wickedness. For example, the devil is often portrayed as left-handed, and people throw salt over their left shoulder to ward off the evil spirits that dwell there.”
Alisha Sands told the local media:
“It breaks my heart for him because someone actually believes that, believes my child is evil because he’s left handed, it’s crazy.”
She then contacted Tony Dean, Superintendent of the school district, but his response was not what she expected, saying:
“There was no suspension of any kind. There was basically nothing done to this teacher. She told them she thought I needed literature on it.”
“I don’t feel like the school did what they were supposed to for him.”
After the incident hit the local news, Dean says they take these things very seriously and that the district is investigating the incident but nothing else has been said or done.
Alisha says she is planning on filing a formal complaint with the Oklahoma Board of Education. When she allows her son to return to the school, she is insisting that he have a different teacher and to have no further contact with the superstitious teacher.
To tell a 4 year old that he is evil or his hand is evil because he’s left handed is unforgivable. That kind of archaic superstitious belief can destroy a young child’s life. Teachers like this have no place in the classroom.
I can’t help but wonder what that teacher would do with a student like me who is truly ambidextrous. When I was 4 years old, I was constantly changing which hand I would use to write and do many different things. Would I have been only partially evil to that teacher?