``In an era when left-handedness was considered the devil's work and lefties were often forced to use their right hand, Leonardo was an unrepentant southpaw. It has been suggested that this "difference" was an element of his genius, since his detachment allowed him to see beyond the ordinary. He even wrote backwards, and his writings are easily deciphered only with a mirror.'' _ Museum of Science, Boston
I sometimes think da Vinci learned to write backwards because, by doing so, he wouldn't smudge his paper or parchment, as lefties are wont to do, rubbing over ink or soft lead with their hands as they write left to right. A lefthander writing backwards, right to left, would avoid that, in addition to encouraging a certain agility of the mind.
Did Obama, in elementary school, smudge his papers? Did McCain, also a lefthander? Of course they did, unless they learned _ as some lefties have _ to write with the base of the hand lifted above the paper. ``Hooking'' might also be an attempt to not smudge.
Is any of this relevant to Tuesday's election, that whoever wins we get a lefthander for president? Of course it is. We are a sum of our parts and handedness is one of those parts. The character of the lefthander is shaped considerably more than the right-hander by his or her handedness, because being a lefthander is still considered odd in our society (persecuted in some) while being a rightie is the norm.
I would suspect that both Obama and McCain had some tough times in their youth because they are left-handed, especially McCain, in his time teachers being more likely to take an aggressive approach to changing him to his right hand. That could have instilled an anger in him as a youth.
Overstating it? I doubt it. Fooling with a young person's natural behavior patterns can carry over into his or her adult life _ maybe one reason lefthanders have a shorter life expectancy. As I've written before, the great songwriter Cole Porter, resisting attempts to change him to right-handed when he was a kid, developed a stutter and never did learn to write in cursive. Those great songs were all printed in his hand _ his left hand. But he never ``wrote'' with it.
Obama, much younger than McCain, came along when, hopefully, his teachers were more enlightened and didn't force the issue. But then he was already a ``minority,'' and perhaps he had already learned to cope with anything else pointed out about him being ``different'' from the majority _ or, perhaps, already being a minority exacerbated it.
It's not surprising that McCain and Obama are lefthanders who have remained such, and not right-handers converted from left-handedness. As in the case of Leonardo, both pretty much know their minds and stand their ground, and probably did so as kids.
Teachers that tried to change them probably found they had hit a brick wall. Judging from the campaign, McCain might have told the teacher to back off, Obama might have tried to convert the teacher to left-handedness. Leonardo, meanwhile, might say, were he around today, ``I'll switch when you can draw as well as I can.''
Left-handedness does seem to encourage a strong streak of individuality and rebelliousness. Consider, among dozens and dozens of like examples, tennis star John McEnroe and baseball icon Babe Ruth; on the other hand, Marilyn Monroe was easy going but not without a tensile strength.
None of the three were low profile, and neither was Leonardo, something we can also say for Obama and McCain.
Causes Steve Hauk Supports
City of Pacific Grove Public Library, Pacific Grove, California; Animal Friends Rescue Project, Pacific Grove; Animal Welfare Information and Assistance,...