Commas Matter

The commas matter


I remember my first real job like it was yesterday. My boss, Elliott, who was about 45 and built like a Green Bay Packers linebacker, made it crystal clear the first week that his intentions were less than honorable. I was 19, half his size, (and absolutely half the size I am today) and still trying to figure out where the bathroom was. As he made his first move, I heard Forrest Gump’s friend Jenny yelling “Run Cynthia Run,” so, like Forrest, I took off around my desk and kept running until he got tired. I showed up for work the next day and after another two or three chases, I found a job that didn’t require a cat and mouse routine.

I thought about my great escapes in light of the recent news swirling around Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and other high profile people who have been accused of sexual abuse or harassment.  The accusations have been a powerful reminder that while I was younger and faster than my boss, being molested, groped, harassed, thwarted from upward mobility and independence—all the terms that run the gamut, is never acceptable.

The law says a person is innocent until proven guilty but in this highly charged climate, hardly anyone waits around to see if there’s any substance or legitimacy to the charges. Too many of us are using the blaring Breaking News/6 p.m. teasers for “Story at 10,” to become judge and executioner in the court of “guilty until proven innocent.”

My parents taught and lived out Proverbs 22:1, “A good name is better than great wealth,” and I still hear my father quoting 1 Thessalonians 5:22, “Baby, shun the appearance of evil.” I wasn’t sure what “shun” meant, but the contextual clues told me I never wanted to shame my parents or sully their good name. Today I have earned my own name and reputation but I faithfully mind and jealously guard my legacy because of the commas that come after my name. There are usually at least two of them—descriptors that sum up the totality of your life– the triumphs, failures–deeds you did or didn’t do to make the world better, i.e., “Thurgood Marshall, the first African American Supreme Court Justice, has died.”  Good, bad or ugly, these descriptors live long after we’re gone so it behooves us to live honorably and with integrity at every age.

This fight for control of our nation’s highest court has become a sad distraction, a dangerous weapon, a litmus test of unfettered power, and a bird’s eye view into why the approval numbers for Congress are at rock bottom. I don’t know the two women who have accused this nominee of inappropriate behavior but what I do know is that accusers deserve respect, not death threats, further victimization, or vicious social media attacks.

Yes, we need nine justices in place when the fall session opens October 1, but everything that needs to be examined should be examined before a confirmation vote. Moreover, considering the weight and enormity of these lifetime appointments, ‘lest we forget that “we, the people,” is the most powerful comma usage in this discussion, the people, need to make some calls, write some letters and emails to be sure, beyond a doubt, that any nominee’s commas get a thorough workout and accurately depict a life worthy of trust, honor, and respect this appointment demands.

Looking for inspiration, empowerment, uplift, straight talk, an encouraging word to brighten your day? You’ve arrived! Meet Dr. Cynthia Ann Bond Hopson, best-selling author, educator, inspirational speaker, sistergirl–she’s all that and more. All the way from Stanton, TN (you can’t get there from here) to 50 states, six continents and everything in between, she’s wise, witty and altogether wonderful. She enthusiastically invites you to slow down, sit a spell, and share a giggle or two.

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