Conformism & Conviction
Sebastian Daniels thought himself a typical young man. At twenty-two, he was already thinking about a career, and was well on his way to becoming a full-time artist at Wilson Comiks Unlimited, a local animation shop.
His ideas were good, his work ethic a healthy one. He was very talented, and yet despite this, people pitied him, even ridiculed him. Why was this? It was quite simple really; he was left-handed.
He was born as any other child, he ate and slept as other children do. He cried, he regurgitated... among other unpleasant things, just as any other child did. But when it came time to learn to do things with his hands, his parents found he favored his left hand.
Most people, you see, were right-handed, and being so was normal. Those born left-handed were at a disadvantage, they had to use writing tools in unusual ways because these tools were made for right-handed people. Railings were always on the right side, the layout in cars favored right-handed people. Why, it was as if the whole world were built to favor right-handed people above left-handed ones.
And it was.
Often, Sebastian would wonder why his left-handedness was such a controversy, but moreover, he wondered why it was so wrong to ask for tools, equipment, even bathroom stalls out of all things, to accommodate left-handed people.
Whenever he would ask for such things, he’d get nasty remarks, or nasty looks, or even the occasional laugh. Society wasn’t too keen on making changes to accommodate left-handed people, and often considered left-handed people to be a burden.
Sebastian dropped his pencil for the fiftieth time this week, which only skewed his drawing.
“Damn it,” he said.
“Is there a problem, Sebastian?” Wilson asked.
“It’s this damned workstation,” Sebastian said. “Every time I work with the upper left corner, my pencil hits this metal arm, and makes me drop it, and all that does is cause errors in my work. This isn’t the first time I’ve made this complaint.”
“Everyone else uses the same workstation, and they don’t seem to have any problems,” Wilson said.
“Everyone else is right-handed,” Sebastian said.
“So work with your right hand,” Wilson said.
“I can’t, I’m not right-handed. I can’t draw with my right hand.”
“Sebastian, ever since you began working here, you’ve delayed the workload, and blamed the workstation, repeatedly. Can you finish this today, or not?” Wilson said.
“Not with this metal arm constantly getting in my way, no. I’ll need time to correct the error it caused,” Sebastian said.
The other workers sighed and dropped their pencils in clear frustration.
“Sebastian‒” Wilson said.
“You know,” Sebastian interrupted, “this wouldn’t be an issue if the company would just put in workstations that have this arm at the top of the desk, rather than the left side.”
“It would cost the company thousands of dollars to make such accommodations,” Wilson said. “And where does it stop? If we make concessions for you, then we have to make concessions for everyone who ever demands something, it’s not financially viable to do that.”
“I’m not asking for preferential treatment here,” Sebastian said. “I’m asking for an equal opportunity to thrive at what I’m good at. I’m asking for the tools I need to be successful, and that’s something everyone else already has.”
“You have the same tools as everyone else,” Wilson said.
“But not the ability to use them the same way everyone else does,” Sebastian said.
“If you cannot do the work that is expected of you, under the same circumstances as everyone else here, then perhaps it’s time to re-evaluate your employment,” Wilson said.
“Fine, I quit,” Sebastian grabbed his art bag, and walked out.
Later that night, the news came on featuring a story about research looking for a way to cure left-handedness. Numerous right-handed individuals came on screen, talking about how left-handedness was a burden on people who were afflicted with it, and that left-handed people couldn’t function as well as right-handed people could.
“Because the whole damn world is built around right-handed people!” Sebastian yelled at the TV.
“Do you know what causes left-handedness?” a reporter asked.
“Well, we don’t know the exact cause, but we do know it’s neurological, so right now we’re looking into prenatal testing measures, to help weed out the traits that make people left-handed, and eliminate those traits, or if the parents choose, to have the fetus aborted,” the interviewee said.
Sebastian scoffed and turned off the TV. He got on his laptop, and found a site full of questions and answers, for a myriad of topics, including left-handedness.
′Should left-handedness be cured?′ one person asked.
′If my cousin is left-handed, should I worry my kids will be left-handed?′ asked another.
′Is it bad that I don’t want kids because there’s a chance they’ll be left-handed?′
‘What is with the sudden push to regard left-handedness as a good thing, and cease finding a cure?’
‘Is left-handedness an epidemic?’
Sebastian could only be angry at how society viewed him, and others like him. Growing up, he was the butt-end of numerous jokes, and now, as an adult, he had to witness society debate whether his brain should be changed, to make him right-handed.
He pounded his fist on the table. “Society pretends that this idea of a cure for left-handedness is for the benefit of left-handed people, but it’s just intolerance disguised as nobility.
“If society really wanted to help us, they’d listen to us, and give us the tools we need to be just as productive as everyone else. I’m not the only one who’s said it.
“Society would rather fix us, than accept us, and help us. Hiding their selfish reasoning behind diplomatically worded ‘causes’, so they can feel better about demanding differently-abled people change for society's benefit. It makes them feel better about the disgusting, abhorrent idea that our brain should be altered to accommodate the rest of society. It’s so easy to turn a blind eye to the distress of a people you refuse to accept into the fold.
“Worse than that, is how this idea of a ‘cure’ sweeps through society and is accepted as a possible solution. Groups use fear, instead of awareness. Ignorance over knowledge. Dehumanization is normalized by disassociating us from ‘normal’ society. And the public just eats it up, out of their own ignorance, and jumps on the bandwagon, never having bothered to ask us what we think. Never having thought about what we want.
“They want us to change for them, but fail to see the irony when they refuse to change for us. We were born this way, born left-handed. We can’t control that fact, but they can control their refusal to give us the same opportunity to thrive as everyone else has been given.
“Oh, I want a cure alright, but not for left-handedness. I want a cure for stupidity, ignorance, selfishness, and intolerance. Without those, there would already be a means for me to function like other people. I wouldn’t have to make demands. Workstations wouldn’t favor one hand over the other, tools would be made so that anyone could use them, not just right-handed people.
“I want to be accepted for my strengths, for who I am, not demonized for my shortcomings, and then expected to change something I can’t control, just because it’s an inconvenience.”
The rage turned to frustration. The frustration turned into sorrow. Sorrow to resignation. He swallowed the lump in his throat, and began typing.
′My name is Sebastian, and I’m left-handed...′
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