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George Michael: Dr. Carson, I presume

February 15, 2013|By GEORGE MICHAEL

Dr. Ben Carson’s speech at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C., last week has elicited more reactions than any time in the 61 years of the event. What he accomplished in his 25-minute speech was nothing short of sensational. Videos of it drew more than 1 million hits on YouTube by Monday morning, with many more viewings of excerpts on countless other outlets. 

Sitting just two chairs to Dr. Carson’s right were President and Mrs. Obama, who gave Carson a standing ovation at the end of his speech.  

Carson is the director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore and the author of several books, including “Gifted Hands.”

If you don’t know his story, it is worth learning about. It is the epitome of inspiration. He overcame abject poverty as a child, directed by a mother who would not let her children make excuses despite their dire circumstances. Carson learned early on the value of reading and that a good education was the route out of poverty. There is no victimization in his story.

While the speech was widely applauded, there were the usual detractors who wish to suppress religious influence in our nation. Despite mass shootings, gang warfare, unemployment and economic stagnation, these people apparently feel that everything is just fine socially and morally, with no reason for concern. 

Some blogs denounced the whole idea of the prayer breakfast as a sinister plot by “shadowy Fundamentalists.” I guess faith and morality are unacceptable in politically correct circles. 

Carson spoke to this topic.

“I’m very, very compassionate and I am not ever out to offend anyone, but p.c. (political correctness) is dangerous. Because ... one of the founding principles was freedom of thought and freedom of expression, and it muffles people. It puts a muzzle on them and, at the same time, keeps people from discussing important issues while the fabric of this society is being changed. ... What we need to do is start talking about things, talking about things that are important, things that were important in the development of our nation.”

Carson had a suggestion for the president to revise his approach on taxation.

“What about our taxation system, so complex there is no one that can possibly comply with every jot and tittle? When I pick up my Bible, you know what I see? I see the fairest individual in the universe — God — and he’s given us a system. It’s called tithe.” 

Carson went on to explain that a proportional tax system, where everyone pays at the same rate, was the fairest system of all. 

Lamenting the state of America’s education system, Carson suggested that our schools needed to provide greater support to our “intellectual superstars,” explaining that he had nothing against athletics or other pursuits in school. 

“What will maintain our position in the world? The ability to shoot a 25-foot jump shot or the ability to solve a quadratic equation? We need to put the things into proper perspective.”

Carson also highlighted the issue of our national debt, noting that it would take more than 500,000 years to count up to $16.5 trillion by counting one dollar per second.

“We have to deal with this” Carson said.

Sam Rohrer, president of the Pennsylvania Pastors Network, commented on Carson’s speech.

“Dr. Carson verbalized sentiments felt, but rarely voiced, by a strong majority of American Christians who are committed to living according to the commands of scripture. Tenets like personal responsibility, moral uprightness and fiscal restraint are not just smart politics, they are also biblically and constitutionally sound, and the basis for America’s success since its inception,” Rohrer said.

Like John the Baptist,  Carson is a voice crying in the wilderness, calling for a different direction for the critical issues of our time. His status and achievements give great weight to his remarks. It is worth the time to listen.

George Michael, who lives in Williamsport, is a former principal of Grace Academy. His email address is gfmichael46@gmail.com.

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