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March 6, 2016 10:28 pm

Getting to Know Ben Carson as a Person and Inspiration

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avatar by Mark Young

GOP candidate Ben Carson. Photo: Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons.

GOP candidate Ben Carson. Photo: Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons.

One can’t help but ponder the significance of choosing a presidential candidate with high ethical standards, morality, and virtuousness. There is no substitute for a political aspirant who has served humanity in an altruistic and selfless way, via a “road less traveled.”

Years ago, I came to know of one such individual; not through his political deeds or partisan exploits, but through his compassionate commitment to healing and helping humanity.

His name is Benjamin Solomon Carson, and he happens to be a colleague of mine.

As a fledgling resident physician in New York during the 1980s, I first learned about this distinguished Johns Hopkins neurosurgeon. Back then, Carson made medical history by masterfully separating a pair of twins joined by the head in a pioneering procedure. Physicians across the world hailed his talent and supreme surgical finesse.

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In 1991, I came to Johns Hopkins Hospital, and came to know and learn about Dr. Ben Carson, personally and upfront.

Dr. Carson had a legendary reputation for hard work, common sense, and perseverance. Living up to his biblical name “Benjamin,” Carson was the embodiment of accomplishment and the “favorite son” of his colleagues and peers.

Although I knew precious little about Carson’s storied past (probably because he was too busy in the OR to tell his story), years later I learned about him through his books and through personal conversations. What an inspirational eye-opener!

As a child “coming up” in wretched poverty, Ben’s upbringing was shaped by a single-mother, who always brought out the best in him. Notwithstanding the adversity surrounding his rough childhood, Ben’s mother instilled in him a supreme sense of faith and belief.

Ben was the youngest surgeon ever to be selected to serve as a Division Chief of Pediatric Neurosurgery. During his early days at Hopkins, he was sometimes mistaken as an orderly, but always took things in stride with a friendly dose of good humor. As an African-American, he served as a mentor to young physicians of all backgrounds. He received the coveted Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Ben always conducted himself with serenity and dignity. His soft-spoken and humble demeanor was reassuring to patients, families, and colleagues alike. Frequently regarded as a “man of few words,” Dr. Carson was always a super achiever. And he has earned a unique distinction by conducting himself humbly and decently during the campaign process. He has resisted the temptation to engage in mudslinging and deceit, so often part and parcel to the sullied political landscape.

His sense of humor is always dignified and respectful. During a recent dinner with Dr. Carson, I sat next to him struggling to open a “triple-wrapped” kosher meal. I quipped that opening the dinner was harder than running for President. He smiled glowingly and said: “I fully understand: I’ll enjoy my Chicken Cacicatore while you savor your Chicken Kashertore.

Deeply devout about his faith, Dr. Carson never questioned the power of G-D in the healing process. Just as he was often seen “davening” for his patient’s health and welfare in the hallowed halls of Hopkins Hospital, he continues to pray for our country’s future. A staunch supporter of Israel, Dr. Carson has a deep and abiding love of the Jewish people and Israel.

On a very personal level, I can’t help but harken back to my early days of medical training in New York City when I first “heard” about Dr. Carson.  Years later, getting to know him personally has allowed me to understand the true meaning of his vision of healing, inspiring, and reviving our country.

Clearly, a path less traveled. It’s such a shame to see Carson drop out of the presidential race. The process was better for his participation.

Mark Young MD, MBA, FACP is a Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation (PM&R) Physician, Medical Acupuncturist and Vocational Rehabilitation Physician



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