Up and coming conservative star and motivational speaker Dr. Benjamin Carson delivered a message on self-reliance, positivity and the importance of education Tuesday, May 21, as a kickoff to the 2013 CCJ Spring Symposium in Birmingham, Ala.
Carson — a neurosurgeon who grew up in dire poverty but worked his way to the director of the neurosurgery department at John Hopkins Hospital — talked early and often about what he called Americans’ fear of speaking their minds and expressing themselves in regards to personal and political convictions. “There are only two alternatives” to “saving our nation,” Carson said: “Continue to be silent and intimidated and go down the tubes like everybody else (former world superpowers) or revolt.”
“Revolt” used in a more intellectual sense, Carson said. “I’m not talking about getting guns and running in the street and shooting people. I’m talking about not submitting to the political correctness police and being willing to stand up for what people actually believe in.”
Carson said the U.S. should take note of what doomed former dominant nations like ancient Egypt, Greece, Rome, France and Britain and try to avoid following a similar path.
Much like the sometimes trial-and-error aspect of the medical field and building upon learning from mistakes and failures, Carson said, the U.S. must do the same. “Some people say [falling] cannot happen to the U.S., but it’s already in the process,” Carson said. “Can we learn from before and take corrective action or will we go down the same path of self-destruction? The answer lies with each one of us and our spheres of influence.”
“We’ve become very docile, very sheep-like,” he added. “We may not agree with something but we’re afraid to say anything. That will lead to disaster.”
Caron and his siblings were raised by their single mother in the inner city areas of Detroit and Boston. Though the family was very poor, Carson says his mother refused to receive government assistance, because, he says, “She used to say ‘I don’t know anybody who went on welfare and came off of it.’ So she didn’t want to go on it to start with. She said ‘I’ll do it myself.’”
His mother pushed him to learn and do well in school by demanding him to read at least two books a week and turn in two book reports to her each week. “Everybody else was outside having a good time, but we were inside reading books,” Carson said. “But a strange phenomenon started to happen. I began to enjoy reading the books. Between the covers of those books I could go anywhere and be anybody and do anything.”
Education and knowledge are keys to not only personal empowerment, but to continuing to not only preserve the United States but to also preserve the innovative spirit that Carson said built the strongest country in the world and the strongest middle class in the history of the world.
However, the U.S. is currently being bested by other countries in terms of education and personal development. For instance, the U.S. produces about 70,000 engineers each year, and 30 percent of them are from foreign countries, Carson said. “They go back to other places and compete with the U.S,” he says. China, on the other hand, produces 400,000 engineers a year.
“If you stop and think what’s going on here, we have a major problem,” Carson says. “Our populace is becoming less educated. Information is really one of the major keys to saving our nation.”
“Educational strength” was the key to the U.S. becoming the immense superpower it is, Carson said. Moreover, the very system of government that formed the U.S. is “based on a well-educated and informed populace,” he said.
“The people that founded this nation” knew “if the populace every becomes other than that the nature of our nation will change,” Caron said. “When people become uninformed they’ll fall for anything. All you need is somebody with a silver tongue to start talking.” That — and visiting schools in which athletics were celebrated and intellectualism went essentially unrewarded — spurred he and his wife to start the Carson Scholarship Fund to reward students for working hard in school and showing good nature toward others. The scholarship fund awarded 5,600 scholarships in the last year.
Carson said the U.S. is at a crossroads determining “what kind of country” it’s going to be, pointing to modern liberal policies as ones that are pushing the U.S. “value system rapidly down hill.”
“Are we going to be for, of and by the people or for, of and by the government?” Carson asked, adding that the creation of the U.S. spurred humanity to move from agrarian-based lifestyle to one built on innovation and advancement.
“Less than 200 years after the advent of this country we had a man walking on the moon,” he said. “Because the benefits of innovation were here. We need the kind of leadership that brings those things back. We need to start thinking about doing things differently by thinking outside of the box.”
Carson said the U.S. should institute a taxation system based on proportionality, in which everyone pays the same percentage of their income. “The problem with the way we do taxing is you have at least half the population that doesn’t pay much of anything,” he said. “And they get a say in how much other people pay? Is that fair? Does that make any sense at all?”
Carson closed his address by saying he pushes a “THINK BIG” pneumonic device for personal motivation. The T stands for talent, Carson said, “That God gave to everybody,” referring to “intellectual talent.”
The H stands for honesty and “living a clean and honest life” and “not putting skeletons in your closet,” Carson said. “The I is for insight. Listen to people who’ve gone where you want to go. Learn from their triumphs. Learn from their mistakes.”
“N is for being nice to people. You get so much more done when you’re being nice.”
The K stands for knowledge, as “that’s the thing that makes you into a more valuable person,” Carson said. “B is for books, which are the mechanism for obtaining knowledge.”
The second I stands for “in-depth knowledge,” he said, which means learning and educating for the sake of understanding and learning and not for doing well on a test. “And the G is for God, who is becoming politically incorrect in our society.” Carson said the country is based upon Judeo-Christian values and people should do the same.
“It’s OK to live by Godly principles of loving your fellow man and loving your neighbor and having values and principles that guide your life,” Carson said. “If we do that not only will we remain a pinnacle nation, but we will have one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
During a brief question and answer session following his speech, he did not rule out running for president in 2016, if he feels guided to do so, but said that he is glad he’s retiring from medicine before the implementation of Obamacare.
He also pointed to health insurance as one of the main problems with the healthcare industry today. He’s a big proponent of health savings accounts for individuals, which would cover 80 percent of patient-provider encounters, he said. The other 20 percent would be covered by bridge or some type of catastrophy insurance.
“We’ve learned a lot from this Obamacare stuff,” he said. “If we can put our collective heads together and think logically, not only can we save this nation but our best days can be ahead.”