Ben was born on September 18, 1951, in Detroit, Michigan. When he was eight years old his parents divorced. His mother only had a third grade education, but worked hard at several menial jobs to provide for Ben and his brother Curtis. A poor student, Ben was mocked by his classmates and he began to respond violently. Poor and troubled, Ben’s life was in a downward spiral.
Concerned her sons were not doing well academically, Ben’s mother Sonya restricted their TV time requiring them to do their homework first. She made the boys get library cards and read two books a week and submit a book report to her on what they read. Within the year Ben’s scholastic progress amazed his teachers and fellow students. When he won an achievement award, a white teacher ridiculed the white students for allowing a black student to best them academically.
Though he was improving in school, he still had a violent temper. Once he threatened his mother with a hammer and in another incident seriously injured a classmate by bashing his head into a locker. Then in an argument with a friend over which radio station to listen to, he tried to stab him with a knife. The knife struck his friend’s belt buckle and broke. Fearing he had hurt his friend he ran home and locked himself in the bathroom with a Bible. He asked God to help him control his anger and read Proverbs 16:32, “He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit, than he who captures a city.”
Ben graduated from Yale in 1973, and then attended the School of Medicine at the University of Michigan. He became a resident at John Hopkins University in 1977. Specializing in neurosurgery he made medical history when he successfully separated the craniopagus Binder twins in 1987. It was the first time siamese twins conjoined at the head had been surgically parted and lived.
Today Benjamin Solomon Carson, Sr., has been the head of pediatric neurosurgery at John Hopkins University’s Children Center for more than twenty-five years. He continues to perform three hundred surgeries a year and is a board member of numerous educational institutions and businesses. He is an internationally respected neurosurgeon and has earned recognition and awards that time and space prevent being shared here. In 2008 President Bush awarded him with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor of the United States of America.
The made for television movie Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story was my introduction to the life and achievements of Ben Carson. Ben was in the public spotlight again recently when he spoke at the National Prayer Breakfast this past February 7. With President Obama sitting ten feet away Dr. Ben Carson simply and clearly explained what he saw as the problems with what has become known as Obamacare, and what he believed to be a solution.
His thirty minute speech has been lauded by conservative pundits and decried by liberal ones. A groundswell of public opinion is calling on him to consider running for President, and The Wall Street Journal ran an op-ed article titled Ben Carson for President. The editorial said Carson “may not be politically correct, but he’s closer to correct than we’ve heard in years.” But Dr. Carson is not interested and said he is making other plans for when he retires this June.
But Dr. Carson is more concerned about the direction political discourse has taken. He thinks there is too much thought given to political correctness that hinders open and honest discussion on the issues facing us as a nation and hamper progress on our problems. He said, “The PC Police are out in force at all times…We have to get over this sensitivity.” He appears to be correct on this point. Carson opined “What I would like to see more often in this nation is an open and intelligent conversation, not people just casting aspersions at each other.”
A Seventh Day Adventist, Dr. Ben Carson possesses a calm Christian demeanor whose words are as surgically precise when he speaks as his hands are in the operating room. He is a model of Paul’s words “speaking the truth in love” Ephesians 4:15. For the moment it seems the man whose “gifted hands” could separate the shared brains of conjoined twins could not separate politicians from their policies. He has gifted hands and wise words. We should listen.