Bill Cosby’s explosive words about responsibility a few months ago offended African Americans and others on both side of the isle causing authors, columnists, and speakers, grandmother Celia Ford, daughter Theresa Allen, and granddaughter Pamela Simonson, to realize how sensitive, thin-skinned, and touchy audiences truly can be.
The native New Yorkers found themselves in demand as public speakers for women’s events after writing their best selling collection of family sayings and famous expressions, Pearls of Wisdom From Three Generations. They were 75, 50, and 25 years old. The book took off and what they originally called a family project snowballed into a ministry --- or a cottage industry, depending on how you look at it. And, whether you are non-Christian or Christian. Liberal or Conservative. Republican or Democrat. Gay or Straight. They have since found out, that in today’s world, semantics can make or break a project.
“Dr. Cosby, coupled with wisdom, taught us a valuable lesson”, stated Simonson, the youngest of the trio. “There are certain buzz words that come into play in today’s society. We have to be careful what to say and when to say them, especially with audiences.”
“My age group is very sensitive to issues that were not in the limelight during my grandmother’s (Ford) generation,” continued the Washington National Opera soprano. “Being a public speaker has taught me to choose my words carefully,” she continued.
Jutxtaposed between the use of words such as “affirmations” versus “prayers”, for instance, the Depression Child, Baby Boomer, and Generation Xer have learned to use “appropriate” terms, depending on their audience. They wisely recommend, people think before they talking. Listen before jumping in. Take note prior to offering an opinion.
“I usually don’t care what I say”, said Ford, the matron and elder stateswoman. “At my age, I earned the right to speak my mind. But we are cognizant of people’s feelings and try to use wisdom in deciphering how receptive they will be to what we say”, continued the retired Registered Nurse and Teacher.
“We use our words wisely – or try to”, chimed in Allen, the Baby Boomer, who is in the process of finalizing a devotional Bible as a part of the “ministry” or “cottage industry”.
“The secular world is greatly offended if we use the word “prayer”, but as Christians, we are true to our foundation”, stated Allen, who is also the founder of the Long Island Christian Bible Institute in New York.
“We let our printed materials speak for us”, said Allen, who included the expression, “the shortest pencil is better than the best memory” in her strand of their book.
“My theory is”, she continued. “if we reach anyone by the use of wise words when we speak, or write our column, and people listen, we have accomplished our mission. We have used our words to make a difference in their lives”.
Besides the 30 Days of Pearl Prayers, a Pearls of Wisdom Calendar, and a Pearls of Wisdom Journal, the women also pen an advice column, Ask Pearls of Wisdom, running weekly in the Washington Informer. They are “praying” or “wishing” (depending on how you look at it) to have their column syndicated.