Dr. Ben Carson, the retired neurosurgeon who ran for president of the United States, visited Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale in October to address the challenging topic of racial reconciliation. In introducing the topic, Calvary Chapel Pastor Doug Sauder asserted that the more diverse a church is the stronger the unity is. He described the evening as a family meeting and said, “the thing that unites us, Jesus Christ our savior, is greater than anything that would divides us.”
He referred to Galatians 3:28, which states, “…you are all one in Christ Jesus.” While Sauder acknowledged there are differences, he said, “those identifiers are not as important as the one identifier that we are all one in Jesus Christ.”
“The most important thing is what God is showing us. So we pray God make me a learner.” And with that in mind, he introduced Dr. Ben Carson.
After receiving a standing ovation, Carson opened by sharing a few things about his life. What follows is a transcript of his introductory statements.
The only think I ever wanted to be was a doctor, said Carson. There were a lot of problems along the way, but you eventually got there. But the wonderful thing about God for me was that he was always there through the most difficult times in my life, and that made a lot more difference than where I was born or what color I was. That superseded everything else and always gave me a reference point.
I became a neurosurgeon, and I was operating on people from all over the world. When I opened their head up, I could not tell where they came from. And I was operating on the thing that makes them who they are: their brain. Their hair doesn’t make them who they are; the pigment in their skin doesn’t make them who there are. It’s their brain. And when you become an in-depth thinker, you begin to evaluate people not on superficial characteristics but on who there are. And that’s what God meant when he said, “man looketh on the outward appearance but God looketh on the heart.”
As we become closer to God, we begin to look deeper at what makes a person who they are and don’t pay so much attention to superficial characteristics.
But there is racial tension in our country, particularly when you look at the African American community. You have to recognize that black people got here a little differently and have a different story. Slavery was a horrendous thing, but black people got through it because of their faith and family. Those two strong pillars made all the difference in getting through slavery, Jim Crow, segregation. Those were the key factors. But today both of those things are suffering. As a result you see significant problems in any community that allows their faith and family to dwindle. It becomes a critical issue for all of us.
My parents divorced when I was young and our family moved from Boston to Detroit where my mother, who had a 3rd grade education, got up at 5 a.m. and worked two or three jobs as a domestic returning home after midnight. People asked her, “Why do you do that? You’ve got two boys. You qualify for welfare. You don’t have to work.” She would say, “Yes, I do” because my mother refused to be a victim and have other people controlling her life, and she wouldn’t let us be victims either. We knew that any time we’d give excuses she’d recite this poem called “Yourself to Blame.” We got tired of hearing that poem, so we stopped giving excuses.
Some people who don’t agree with me have called me a hypocrite. Because I grew up poor, they say I must have benefitted from government programs and now he wants to get rid of all the government programs. That is a lie. I have no desire for such things. But I do have a strong desire to create ladders of opportunity, so people can climb up out of the state of dependency and become part of the strength and fabric of this country.
And I think that’s the philosophy Christ had. Christ had compassion, but he was also about elevating people to a position where than can develop their God-given talents.
Today 73 percent of African American babies are born out of wedlock. So many grow up without the benefit of both a father and mother, and often the first authority figure they encounter is a police officer. And if you don’t know how to respond to authority, and that’s the first authority figure you meet, it’s not a good outcome. Sometimes it’s someone who’s badder than they are. Either way, it’s not a good outcome.
Changing the equation
You need to go back to the root cause that family has deteriorated and solutions have to be oriented toward that root cause. It’s reached a point where many say the black male in American is an endangered species. The number one cause of death for young black males in our cities is homicide. Because of the tremendous incarceration rates, we have 5 percent of the population and 25 percent of the prison inmates. It’s a real, significant problem for us.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. All of us can be involved in changing that equation. Anybody, regardless of race, could have taken that young, black male by the hand when he was 6-years-old and walked down the streets of Washington, D.C. or Fort Lauderdale and given them a black history lesson he would have never forgotten.
Carson went on to describe a litany of black figures in history who made significant contributions to things that we see all our around us every day.
From Charles Brooks, a black man who invented the street sweeper, to Garrett Morgan, who invented the traffic signal and the gas mask who saved a lot of lives during the war; from Madam C.J. Walker, a black woman who invented cosmetic products for women of dark complexion who was the first woman of any nationality in America to become a millionairess on her own efforts, to Charles Daniel Hale Williams who had the first successful open heart surgery in the world, and Edison’s Right hand man Lewis Latimore was the first one to come up with filament that made the light bulb work from more than 2 0r three days, to Elijah McCoy, the automatic lubrication system for locomotive engines who invented so many things that he was the name behind the saying, “That’s the real McCoy.” And that’s barely scratching the surface.
So that young man never had any reason to believe that his ancestors didn’t play an important role in the development of this nation. He should feel fully invested in this nation.
But the great things is, I can take that same walk down the street for any nationality and point out significant contributions and that’s what makes this a great nation. Because God has used all of our talents, and if we pay homage to him, if we give him honor, there is no question that he will honor us as a nation.”
For more, visit Calvaryftl.org/watch.
For more articles by Shelly Pond, please visit goodnewsfl.org/author/shelly/