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Fingers Arenít Just for Making Fist
Posting Date: 09/12/2011

Betty Haines

Most of us know that, individually and collectively, fingers can extend, rotate and flex. We learned in elementary school that each finger can work independently of the other fingers, as well as work in unison. I believe that some of us fail to appreciate just how important fingers are and have, perhaps, forgotten the lessons that can be learned by taking a closer look at fingers.

Fingers are great aides to communication and transcend most language barriers:

- Extending one's index finger points out a specific object or indicates a direction.

- Holding an index finger up to one's pursed lips and hissing softly indicates stay silent or stop talking (hmmm... perhaps this could be useful to our city leaders in public comment sessions of city meetings).

- An extended middle finger is almost universally recognized as an expression of extreme disrespect, anger, frustration, or hatred.

- A gold band on the ring finger indicates marital status: left hand = married, right hand = divorced/widowed.

- Who among us, has not used a pinky swear as a way of proving our truthfulness or loyalty?

- Executing a snappy salute is done to indicate recognition of rank or authority.

- Thumbs up/thumbs down shows approval/disapproval.

- Two fingers of whiskey is a darned good measurement.

- Extending your index finger and moving it, in a circle, around your ear signals that you consider someone nuts, loony, loco, etc.

- Victory is signaled by extending the index and middle finger to form a V.

- In many parts of Asia, showing your hands with fingers apart is considered a curse; but, showing them with your fingers together, it considered a blessing.

- Children use the finger counting rhyme - Eeny, meeny, miny, mo. They extend each index finger and rub one across to signal shame on you.

Some say the thumb is a finger, others disagree. Either way, the thumb works with every other finger; having opposing thumbs is a major separator of humans from other members of the animal kingdom. It gives humans the ability to use tools and to grasp objects. Check it out; try to use a pencil, turn a door knob, button a button, pull up a zipper, pick a coin up off a flat surface, or open a jar without using your thumb. Without out thumbs, folks couldn’t “thumb their nose” at others and hitch-hiking would be much more difficult. Every red-blooded female knows that the sight of a cowboy in tight jeans, with his thumbs hooked in the back pockets of those jeans, is every bit as enjoyable as viewing a desert sunset.

Thankfully, fingers are under the direct control of their owner; and, they function only in response to impulses or directions from that person’s brain. BUT, what if your fingers functioned independently of

your control? Let’s pretend for a bit, OK?

Let's say the middle finger aspires to change its image; it decides to expand its functions to include things that aren’t embarrassing, or disgusting. Yep, it is fed up with enduring snickers, dirty looks, and a raunchy reputation. One day, this well-developed finger decides to revolt. It begins over-riding the ability of other fingers to control their functions:

- When a child tries to execute a pinky swear, the middle finger extends before the pinky can make a move.

- As a groom attempts to place a wedding ring on the ring finger of his bride, the middle finger forces the index finger, ring finger, and pinky finger remain bent, while it (the middle finger) extends toward the groom.

- When a person attempts to point out a direction, the index finger will not extend, but out pops the middle finger.

- A coach wishes to flash a symbol of victory to spectators in the stands; unfortunately, that bullying middle finger won’t allow the index finger to remain rigid.

- I want to give my boss a thumbs up; but that old middle finger springs into action and insists, “I’ll make that sign”; thus I end up kicked to the curb.

- A city leader attempts to stop a citizen’s comment during a meeting; the index finger simply will not extend up to pursed lips; but, the aggressive, misbehaving middle finger is up there plain and proud.

The list could go on and on, but I think you get the idea of the miscommunication and frustration that would result if fingers were not under the direct control of the brain.

Now, let’s imagine what accomplishments and improvements can happen if our City Council members learn to function like well-behaved fingers. Let’ do a little what if exercise:

What if:

- Each Council member becomes flexible and willing to extend himself/herself occasionally?

- Each member values their uniqueness and is willing to use it to seek creative solution to City problems?

- Each member understands and performs their function to the best of their ability?

- The Mayor will work with every other member of the council?

- Each member will work independently of the other members; as well as, working in unison with them to grasp and hold items requiting their attention?

Last, but certainly not least, think of what a wonderful place Mesquite can be if each citizen will remember:

Fingers aren’t just for making fists;

They’re also used when shaking hands.

Waving a cheery hello,

Giving a pat on the back,

And a thumbs up!

Betty Haines writes college curriculum on Customer Service and Business Management; she is the author of the fiction novel “Reluctant Hero”, about the civil rights movement in southern unions, which is available at and

Her books can be purchased by using the Mesquite Citizen Journal Bookstore, accessible through the Book Store section listed in the left navigation bar.


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