|Neurosurgeon, speaker and author Dr. Ben Carson addresses students and invited guests during the chapel hour in the Rubin Arena at Palm Beach Atlantic University on Monday.|
Faith and the American spirit have been constant themes in the life and career of celebrated Johns Hopkins neurosurgeon and Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient Dr. Ben Carson, who spoke about his beliefs during a special chapel presentation at Palm Beach Atlantic University on Monday.
The author of five books, Dr. Carson said that as a youth growing up in a single-parent household, he struggled with poor grades and a horrendous temper.
Once, at age 14, he became so angry at someone that he nearly stabbed the person in the abdomen, he said. The victim’s belt buckle was the only thing that prevented a serious injury, he said.
“I realized that with at temper like that, there was no way I was going to realize my dream” of becoming a physician, he said.
He locked himself in a bathroom, where he began praying and reading the Bible. He focused on several passages in the book of Proverbs.
“God changed the person who I was. When I came out that bathroom, the anger was gone, and I’ve never had another episode since that time,” he said.
Some people say that he just learned how to cover it up, he said. “I’ll tell you something. When God fixes a problem He doesn’t just do a paint job. He does it from the inside.”
Dr. Carson went on to achieve fame for several successful operations to separate twins joined at the head. He said that during one particularly complicated surgery in South Africa, he felt that he had reached the limits of his capability. So he prayed.
He said he doesn't remember much about the final hours of the procedure other than when he made the final cut. “God had taken over,” he concluded.
In many cases, “He asks us to do our best, and He will do the rest,” he said.
In addition to relying on his religious faith, Dr. Carson said that he always had the support of his mother, who believed in him even when others didn’t. She worked multiple jobs as a housekeeper and refused to accept public assistance, he said.
“She never became a victim and she never felt sorry for herself,” he said, adding that she asked God for the wisdom to help her guide her two young sons.
She then shut off the television set, and she required her boys to read books and to submit to her written book reports “that she couldn’t read, but we didn’t know that” at the time, he said.
Dr. Carson directed pediatric neurosurgery at the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center for 39 years until his retirement on June 30, 2013. He is working on a new book, due out this year. He wrote his fifth book, “America the Beautiful,” with his wife, Candy, and it became a New York Times bestseller.
In recent years, Dr. Carson has turned his sights toward motivating young people to have the courage to help heal a nation that he believes is in “critical condition … as we wander away from the very values and principles that established us as the pinnacle nation in the world,” he said.
He recalled an instance several years ago in which lawyers threatened to remove his THINK BIG banners from public schools. In the acronym, the letter “G” represents God, he said.
“The First Amendment was not about taking God out of our lives,” he said. “It was about keeping the church from controlling the government and keeping the government from controlling the church.”
He said that young people must have the courage demonstrated by American Revolutionary War hero Nathan Hale, who was still a teenager when he lost his life.
“There were so many others who sacrificed everything, including their lives, so that we could experience freedom,” he said. “We must not capitulate to the forces that want to destroy our value system and that want to take God out of our nation.”
He also encouraged students to supplement their education by spending half an hour each day learning new things. “You will be amazed at what you will know after a year has gone by.”
He concluded by offering his definition of success: “Taking the talent that God has given to you and using that to elevate other people.”