People tried to change Nicholas Ferroni, believing that the way he was born would make life harder. Fortunately, he came to accept himself the way God made him.
I am a sinner, but it is beyond my control. I was born this way. I can’t change it. Believe me: I tried. I knew I was different from an early age, and everyone around me knew, as well. My devoutly Catholic Italian grandmother even attempted to force me to change, but she couldn’t. As a child I always felt like other children were talking about me behind my back, and my mother (God bless her) supported me throughout that very difficult time. However, it was my preschool teacher, Mrs. Martino, who helped me realize that I am perfect the way I am, and that God made me this way for a reason. She even said to me that I am actually blessed and not cursed and that in fact, I might be smarter, more creative and more gifted than those who aren’t like me.
Mrs. Martino said, “Nicholas, you may not think so now, but being left-handed is such a gift, and some of the greatest people in history were all lefties.” She then went on to list them: Albert Einstein, Leonardo Da Vinci, Isaac Newton, Babe Ruth, Bill Gates, Mark Twain, Sandy Koufax, Oprah, Gandhi, Galileo, Michelangelo and so on. That simple exchange changed my life forever. Thank you again, Mrs. Martino, for being a nurturing, loving and encouraging teacher; I was truly blessed.
I know you weren’t expecting me to say that I am a sinner for being a lefty, but it’s true. Everyone who is different from the accepted norm of the time tends to receive criticism. But being a lefty in the recent past is no different from being gay in the present. When I was 9 my uncle gave me a book called The History of the Left-Handed. I learned that the word “left” is from the Anglo-Saxon word “lyft,” which meant “weak.” That alone says a lot, but there was much more. The Latin word for “left” was associated with the words for “sinister,” “evil” and even “unlucky.” Why do you think we call it the “right” hand? To use the other hand, the left hand, is to use the “wrong” hand. In nearly every culture being left-handed is associated with something negative, but the chapter about Christianity’s view is what affected me the most. In Christianity, and even in other religions, the right side is associated with the favored hand of God, which means that the other side, the left side, is associated with the devil.
Imagine that: In the past, if you were simply a lefty, you would have been punished and forced to convert to using your other hand, because those in power at the time believed that it was sacrilegious and even went against God. In contrast, in the present, it’s universally accepted that lefties are, on average, more creative, more artistic and more innovative than those who are right-handed. Some of the beliefs you may have heard about left-handed people are true; I was always a very good artist and extremely creative, which did scare my parents on a few occasions. And I am among brilliant company. In addition to the figures mentioned earlier, five out of the last seven presidents were lefties (including Barack Obama). The list is too vast, too brilliant and too significant to name them all without leaving out so many. We may only be 10 percent of the population, but it appears that we are a majority of history’s most significant individuals.
The purpose of this article is not to brag about why being left-handed is an advantage or that I’m a genius (because I’m not, but my mother thinks I am) but basically to state the obvious: The fact that the Bible states that something is “wrong” doesn’t mean that it is. I imagine that throughout history, when someone was different from everyone else (even because of something as minor as being left-handed), that person would have felt fearful, because that trait went against society’s norms. We fear what we don’t understand. I am not gay, but, like gay people, I understand how foolish and ignorant it is to think someone is bad or a sinner merely because that person is different from what is considered “right” at the time. If I am not evil, sinister, stupid or less of a human being because I am left-handed, then neither is someone who is gay.
If being left-handed is not a choice but a gift with which God blesses some people, then so is being gay. If we now accept that being left-handed is not evil or sinful and certainly doesn’t indicate that someone is on the devil’s side, no matter what the Bible says, then I have no doubt that, in the near future, we will extend that same understanding to those who are gay or lesbian. I just hope mankind comes to this obvious realization sooner rather than later, because when a child believes something to be true that’s not, that’s innocence, but when an adult believes something to be true that’s not, that’s ignorance.
Image courtesy of Flickr/Daquella manera