By David Stanczak
As I combed the newspaper yesterday for Forum material, it appeared that McLean County had become Bizarro World: The stories included a man intimidating local judges, another pulling a gun on a woman on an internet date, a minister taking advantage of a minor, a homeless man run over while sleeping at a gas station…and Drew Peterson coming to Pontiac. Something more uplifting was clearly needed.
Dr. Ben Carson made a splash in the news recently with remarks at the national prayer breakfast that were seen as a verbal shot at the president. A little investigation revealed Carson to be a very interesting person. He’s a brain surgeon, and head of the pediatric neurosurgery unit at Johns Hopkins Medical Center. He’s also black, and although he went to Yale and the University of Michigan, he grew up one of two sons born to a woman who raised them herself in the Detroit inner city.
Carson’s autobiography, Gifted Hands, is very uplifting reading. While his surgery stories are interesting and inspiring, the most compelling part of the book is how Carson got to be a neurosurgeon. His mother forced the boys to read two books a week and write book reports for her, which she could barely read herself. She accepted no excuses for failures, and insisted on success. Carson applied to only one college because he could afford only one $10 nonrefundable deposit. Unbelievably, on several occasions, his mother arranged for others to take the boys during her absences, absences which Carson later learned she used to voluntarily check herself in to a mental hospital when she felt she couldn’t keep up with two boys while holding down at least two jobs.
Carson overcame poverty and a bad temper, and got where he was, not without encountering racism, but without becoming bitter about it. Nearing retirement, he is pursuing charitable projects to help disadvantaged youth. His miraculous freshman year at Yale is beyond the scope of this Forum, but I recommend the book and Carson to you for further investigation. Carson is the real deal, a remarkable human being, and our nation needs more people like him.
David Stanczak, a Forum commentator since 1995, came to Bloomington in 1971. He served as the City of Bloomington’s first full-time legal counsel for over 18 years, before entering private practice. He is currently employed by the Snyder Companies and continues to reside in Bloomington with his family.
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