Knights and Ladies of Ehud

(PLEASE NOTE that this organization no longer exists — however, some people still think that left-handedness is a problem that needs to be corrected or cured. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Being left-handed is just as normal as being right-handed.

After reading the articles below, if you think that any of your local parents, educators, school boards, or others in your community are trying to "cure" left-handed children or otherwise downgrade left-handed persons in any way, you may want to start your own modern-day chapter of the Knights and Ladies of Ehud in order to end this prejudice!).

Pictured above is a 1881 representation of Ehud killing Eglon.

(THE DEATH OF EGLON by British artist Ford Madox Brown, who was world-famous through the late 19th/early 20th cebtury, at least among those who were rather cultured ... or who wanted to be.)

Because the artist was so well known, and his work was so often reproduced, this painting — captured at http://www.preraphaelites.org/the-collection/1912p46/dalziels-bible-gallery-the-death-of-eglon/ — may have been known to some of the Knights and Ladies of Ehud.)

You can see Ehud's left hand reaching for the dagger, while his right hand gestures distractingly:  since the gesture is a finger pointing upward, this presumably depicts the verse where Ehud claims to offer his prospective victim a message from God.

EVER HEAR OF THE ORDER OF THE KNIGHTS

AND LADIES OF EHUD?

[Harbor Grace Standard — July 13, 1912]

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You may Become a Member of he Order if you are Left-Handed —

Strange Facts About a Little-Understood Occurrence

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Are you an Ehudite?  If so, you are a member of one of the most exclusive organizations in the world.

There are organizations in which membership depends upon wealth, social position or distinguished merit. But membership in the fraternity of the Knights and Ladies of Ehud is far more exclusive. It depends wholly upon birth. Only left-handed people can ever hope to become members.

The Rev. William Albert Frye is the founder of the Order of the Knights and Ladies of Ehud. He is a left-handed pastor, and so convinced is he that left-handed people are not getting fair play in this world that he is making a special ministry to them. The following is one of his latest addresses:

A man is no more responsible for being left-handed than he is for being red-headed. Both are respectable. The left-handed person has ever been a factor in the world, and is more or less conspicuous. He is something of a genius—never an eccentric or a fool. He is naturally shrewd and observing. The fact that he is under the handicap of custom and definition makes him alert, and, perhaps, suspicious, but never captious—never soft. The dictionary unjustly describes him by defining left as "weak, worthless, clumsy, and unskillful."

[In the play CAPTAIN by Beaumont and Fletcher,] Histo asked what kind of a man Piso was exploiting, and the answer was: "That thou mayest know him perfectly, he is one of a left-handed making, a lank, lean thing." Yet it can be clearly shown that some of the finest work of the brush and pen have issued from the left hand. The left-handed person is a constant argument for achievement and lawful departure from ruts and commonplace things. They have no precedent, and have to blaze their own way. That is why left-handed persons are always original.

A Study.

For many years I have made a study of left-handed people. I have become convinced that thousands of them have been and are being unjustly treated. I founded the Knights and Ladies of Ehud to win just recognition.for my left-handed brethren. Our motto is "No more punishment for the left-handed."

Nurses, parents and teachers punish children who are left-handed in an effort to make them use their right hands. I myself can remember being punished for using my left hand, which in me happened to be the most willing. No one not left-handed can know the sufferings of a left-handed person - the inconvenience, the humiliation constantly occurring through life.

Why are the majority of people right-handed? Some suppose it is because of long ages of heredity; that centuries upon centuries of partial employment, or none at all, have caused the left hand to lose its natural cunning. Among biologist it is notorious that many animals, birds and insects had had organs, both external and internal, fall into desuetude through disuse attendant upon changed conditions of environment and ways of living.

The Reason Why.

Against this theory, however, it is pointed out that babies are left-handed when very young, and that for the simplest of reasons. Thus ordinarily a mother or nurse, unless herself be left-handed, carries an infant with its head resting against her breast, and with its right arm next to her body. Consequently baby dart out with his left hand to grasp objects that attract his notice. Inded, the little one might well grow up left-handed in the most natural way unless checked in the habit by parents or relatives. Have not all herd fond mother or father remonstrating, "Right hand, darling!" with the child that put o his or her left hand in greeting a visitor.

Why are the majority of people right-handed? To answer this question it is necessary to go back to the time when man was a cave dweller and had to fight wild mammoth and mastodon for bare subsistence. Stone axe or super in hand, he used his right hand in order to keep his hert, the mot vital of organs, as far as possible from an adversary's assault. And later, when tribe found tribe as common foes, it was found convenient to wield weapons in uniformity, leaving the other hand and arm free for preserving balance and for holding a shield. The aim was always to protect the heart, and this was done with the left hand. In this way right-handedness was brought about and passed down from rather to son for untold generations. Man has ever been a fighting animal, and it must have been clear to him from the earlier times that of some of the fighting phalanx were left-handed and others right-handed their weapons would be continually clashing and their squares thrown into disorder with disastrous effect when the enemy should perceive a momentary confusion.

Use Both Hands.

On the other hand, if each man used spear or axe with the same hand as his neighbor, symmetry and system would be given to the fighting force. To maintain that the left hand suffers from any physical disability as compared with its more favored fellow is unfair, and not in accord with fact. This may be shown by any one who takes pains to train his left hand; he will soon find that one may become as clever as the other. Thus in knitting, a woman gives both an equal share of work, and she is equally skilled with each hand. And have you not noticed that when riding a man gives his left hand the preference in the matter of holding the reins?

There is much curious and interesting evidence to show that in the early days of the world's history left-handed men abounded, and were warriors of renown at that. I have found that many of the old Biblical characters were left-handed, and among them was a great general of King David's forces named Ehud. It is after him than my left-handed brotherhood is named. Ehud was a Benjaminite, and one of the Judges of Israel, or that part of Israel that was under the dominion of the Moabites.

In recent years we have discovered that people are right-handed because the left side of the head and the left side of the grain are more developed than the right side. There is a distinct advantage in having the right side, the right love of the brain, more developed. And of that side is more developed you are left-handed. Left-handed people are right-brained people, and out of the ordinary. Therefore, every such person on earth is entitled to knighthood in the noble order of the Knights and Ladies of Ehud.

Not a Matter of Pity.

There is no reason for the left-handed to be looked upon with a kind of pity while the ambidextrous - those who use both hands indifferently - are regarded as clever freaks. The left-handed man is entitled to as much respect as the right-handed man.

Among famous left-handed men and women quoted by Mr. Frye are Ehud, one of David's generals, Julius Caesar, Hans Holbein, painter, Cornelius Ketel, Dutch painter, Rugendas, German battle painter, and Queen Victoria.

The two NY TIMES articles transcribed below, on the Knights and Ladies of Ehud (identified in one of the articles as the Excellent Order of the Knights and Ladies of Ehud), can be reached by an archive-search at http://query.nytimes.com/search/sitesearch/#/"Knights+and+ladies+of+ehud"/

/1/

TOPICS OF THE TIMES

Left-handed Jerseymen Foregather.


 
As left-handedness was about the only excuse for forming a new society that had not been used, it is no wonder that the deep-lying impulses like to band with like for protection or power should have led certain people over in New Jersey who are marked with this peculiarity to form themselves into the "Excellent Order of the Knights and Ladies of Ehud."
To be sure, EHUD, if he hadn't lived so long ago, might be viewed somewhat askance as an exemplar and patron, for few modern regicides ever violated confidence in a meaner way than he did. He is not, the only assassin, however, to whom distance lends glamour, if not enchantment, and he did at least prove that purposes can be carried out with left hands when there is determination to back them. But the members of this Excellent Order should study up their own distinction more than they have done, judging from the speeches made at their first meeting.
Left-handedness, when natural—that is, when it is manifested soon after birth and is not acquired later on as the result of some accident to the right hand or arm—is not in any sense a mark of inferiority, either mental or physical. It simply means that, for some mysterious reason, the child does with the right side of his brain what most people do with the left side of theirs, and he does it just as well, except as he may be inconvenienced by the infrequency with which he finds tools adapted to his special needs. This difficulty should be endured or overcome, for there is much danger involved in making a left-handed child use his right hand. Foolish parents often attempt this, with the result, often, of turning a bright and skilled child into a dull and clumsy one.
The superstitious Romans called the left hand "sinister," and that absurd notion has clung to it, but our word "left" has nothing to do with the word "leave.". It means simply "weak," which the left hand is, comparatively, owing to partial disuse. Ambidexterity is an ideal never attained except at the cost of doing nothiing with either hand really well, or as well as one hand could have been trained to do it.

 
/2/

 

LEFT-HANDED FOLK FORM A KNIGHTHOOD

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For the "Southpaws" of Life Do Big Things by Keeping Out of Ruts, Says Pastor.

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AS EHUD WROUGHT OF OLD

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So Orange, N. J., Knights and Ladies Accent Their Oddity as a Symbol of Brave Endeavor.
 

Ushered into being with a sermon for left-handed people, the Excellent Order of the Knights and Ladies of Ehud was established at Orange, N. J., last evening though the efforts of the Rev. Dr. William A. Frye, pastor of the Orange Methodist Church. Certificates of membership were given by the minister, who had assembled the southpaws at his church with the special object of raising them out of their slough of despond and asking them believe that to be left-handed was to be distinguished rather than blighted.
A hymn composed by Dr. Frye and his prayer "that the Fatherhood of God and the Brotherhood of Man may come swiftly to the world," were impressive incidents of the service. The church was filled. Never before in the history of this community were so many left-handed people brought together. Dr. Frye, of course, is left-handed. His text was:
"But when the children of Israel cried out unto the Lord, the Lord raised the up a deliverer, Ehud, the son of Gera, a Benjamite, a man left-handed."
Right at the start, the minister pointed out, Ehud showed his originality and resourcefulness by making his left-handedness useful in delivering his people from bondage. He was sent to bear tribute to the King Eglon.  Being left-handed, he as his sword on the right side, wherein failed to excite suspicion. While he was giving Eglon his hand—his right hand, as others were accustomed to do—with his left hand he plunged the blade into the king.  En his followers were free.
"Of course the left-handed man departs from the usual methods," said Dr. frye. "So must every reformer, inventor, discoverer, or champion of any progressive society, over meant, or Church."
"The left-handed man is a constant argument for advancement and lawful departure from ruts and commonplace things. This man Ehud dared to be himself. Headboard precedent. He is a shining example of what can be done by methods not used by others.
"Ehud was considered peculiar because he was left-handed. God's people from generations remote have been called a peculiar people.
"Left-handed as a term will stand for most of the reforms and redemptive processes of the workd. I invite every person who uses the left hand to accept the honors of knighthood in the Excellent Order of the Knights and Ladies of Ehud, whose motto is, 'No more punishment for the left-handed'; sign of recognition, shake with the left hand; obligations, 'I will always live on the sunny side and never dishonor my willing hand, but ever extend it to help a brother man.'"
Taking up the theme of the hardships of the left-handed an, Dr. Frye declared a left-handed man is no more responsible for being Lefthanders than he is for being red-headed. Both are respectable.
"The man left-handed is under a handicap of custom and definition. Custom embarrasses him and puts him. In the limbo of severe is inline. The dictionary makes him out a worthless, clumsy, unskillful tyro. The drama takes a fall out of him.
"Histo asked: 'What kind of man?'
"Psio answered: 'That thou mayest know him perfectly, he is one of a let-handed making, a lank, lean thing!'
"These allegations are as false as they are malicious. It can be clearly shown that some of the finest work of brush or pen has issued from the left hand. The world has made the left-handed man stand for the opposition. The Ten Commandments must be listed with him, for they are on the left.
"Many people have looked upon the left hand as a deformity rather than the expression of genius. I have a recent letter from a prominent woman who says that when she was a child her left arm was strapped to her sides pot her shoulder 'to cure her.'. We are horrified at Chinese foot-binding, but show the stage in us by mentally and physically punishing he left-handed child. I was brought out before the entire school once, and compelled o hold out my left hand, palm up, while a heavy male teacher pounded it with a ferrule.
"While some of these severe measures at 'reform' have passed, yet the prejudice still lingers. Why try to stifle the willing hand of skill, precision, courage, justice, loyalty, and religion?"


RESEARCH NOTES/COMMENTS by Kate Gladstone:


 
/1/ Reverend Frye's church — the Orange Methodist Church of Orange, NJ — is still in existence as the Orange United Methodist Church: whose web-site at http://www.connect2orange.org/about.html includes, on the bottom half of that page, a brief history of the church (showing that Orange Methodist Church was indeed its earlier name).

 

/2/ If the Knights & Ladies were still active in 1922, they must have been chagrined to learn that the schools of nearby Elizabeth, NJ in that year were quoted in newspapers as announcing that they had "cured" most of their left-handed students: http://books.google.com/books?id=ROYoKoUn1jUC&pg=PA215&lpg=PA215&dq=left+handedness+cured+in+schools&source=bl&ots=arDeARRj7E&sig=A129AzBurMKtg4-tcdvurMpDf6c&hl=en&sa=X&ei=KL6UT9yvDsiV6AGFtamHBA&ved=0CCkQ6AEwBA#v=onepage&q=left%20handedness%20cured%20in%20schools&f=false
... If the Knights & Ladies were still around 10 years after their début, I'd expect that they — or some of them — would have written letters of protest to the school board and/or to the newspaper, perhaps stating their membership.
 
/3/ Here are a few links that demonstrate the evidence that people are _still_ trying to "cure" left-handedness: http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20061016215455AAhkh9i

... Somewhere, the Reverend Frye and the rest of the founding members are doing tailspins in their graves.

A special "Thank You" to Kate Gladstone for contributing this wonderful article about the Knights and Ladies of Ehud!  

Kate Gladstone is a handwriting instruction and remediation consultant who was drawn to this field through self-remedying (at age 24) her own then-dysfunctional handwriting. Today, she teaches and remediates handwriting internationally, for children and adults: in person (to individuals and groups) and long-distance (via e-mail/phone correspondence and consultation based individually on the writer's handwriting samples.

Kate's own eligibility for the Knights and Ladies of Ehud — if they still existed — is dubious:  although she does many things left-handed (and can write well enough left-handed to teach a left-hander or, for that matter, an amputee), usually she writes right-handed (and is a little better, and a lot faster, that way)

"Technically, I'm classified as weakly right-handed: so no Knighthood for me. However — " she continues — many of my students and quite a lot of my relatives are indeed left-handed: about 40% of my family on both sides would have qualified to join the Ehudites, and quite a few of them could have used its helping hand because they were severely punished for being better with their left hand than with their right as small children.  A younger friend of mine was tortured for left-handedness by her nursery school teacher ... in1967."

Even today, Kate notes, as a handwriting teacher and consultant she receives one or two letters a year from parents and teachers asking how they can 'cure' a left-handed son, daughter, or student.  "I always answer such letters," she writes, "and believe that my answer would have been approved by the Ehudites of old and their namesake hero.  If any modern-day heir of Ehud and of the good Reverend Frye wishes to revive the order, I hope the new Knights and Ladies will regard me as a friend and defender, striving to act according to their principles despite my ineligibility for their ranks."

Visit Kate's website at:  http://handwritingthatworks.com/ 

 

         

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