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March 6, 2016 10:28 pm

Getting to Know Ben Carson as a Person and Inspiration

avatar by Mark Young

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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.

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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  • Kathy Price

    A well written piece Dr Young, thank you! It has been a pleasure to get to know Dr Carson, even from a distance! I fear for the future of our country and it was very refreshing to have a man of integrity attempt to address the problems in the USA speaking as an adult instead of a spoiled child in a playground brawl. Dr Carson has made an incredible contribution to society and an indelible impression on all of those fortunate enough to come into contact with him.

    We all need to remind ourselves that politicians will not solve our problems…they are problems of the heart. God is still in charge and He is the one who changes hearts!

    Thanks to Dr Carson for his integrity, compassion, patriotism and all he has endured in this process! May God continue to bless him in all of his future endeavors!

  • Brandon Bukovitz

    A delightful and thoughtful read. I very much liked the parallelism you drew between Dr. Carson and his biblical namesake.

    With Carson no longer in the race however, I fear few can bear the genuine mantle of honesty and integrity this election cycle. While his medical expertise and accomplishments speak for themselves, what I believe truly distinguished Carson was how his actions actually echoed the same virtues he espoused… a rarity in a field littered with empty promises and masterful prevarication.

    Alas, I had hoped that as president, Carson could finally help heal the racial divides that plague our country – just look at Ferguson, or Cleveland, or the almost yearly swastika vandalisms at Berkley University, or more recently, David Duke’s spotlight in the headlines. Carson knew even as a child that neither his background nor his skin color determined his potential. To me, he will always be a testament to the American Dream, even if public office was not his calling.

  • Melody Stoneburner

    No words can express how disappointed I am that Dr Carson got out of the race. All I can do is pray for wisdom to understand this country. God bless you and your family and thank you for your service!

  • Craig

    Great article! I supported Carson financially in this campaign not because I thought he could win but because I thought it necessary to bring his quality of character into the Republican arena. He impressed many people and may indeed be a viable candidate in the future if he can find an appropriate, politically instructive job for the next 4-8 years.

  • Judy Silver-Shapiro

    Ben Carson=Quiet unassuming MENSCH

    A soft-spoken HEALER.

    I am forever the daughter of a
    Cardiologist, who is eternally
    remembered as a Humble Healer.

  • Sue

    I was so glad to read this blog. Dr. Carson has actually been mocked, and portrayed in a negative manner. Recently, on “Saturday Night Live” he as actually called stupid! He is a great physician and I would hope, that he will be considered for the position of Surgeon General of the United States by whoever is elected President!

  • I have been following and reading Ben Carson’s books or 2 years and was delighted when he decided to run for President, excited when he was polling first and winning against Hillary.
    I still have a hard time understanding. I know the median started the campaign
    against him, hard for me to realize how much power their have. The media should be for the people’s good and let the process of freedom prevail. If we do not use our freedom of choice wisely and make our independent choices as we should, we have no freedom.

  • Gail Litz

    You wrote profound truth. America is finding there still are stately God loving patriots. You Mark fall in to that group. I have hope for our country again. Keep up the good works. We are all disappointed in politics but we can hopefully help bring old glory back to her foundation!

  • Yoel Nitzarim

    ההגינות , טובה הלב, חוסר האנוכיות , האכפתיות , מוסר חרוץ , והאנושות אמיתית להפליא של אדם .אנושי זה הוא רק על חום גבוה מדי מישור מוסרי להתחרות בבחירות לנשיאות עכשוויות

  • Carmella Lijana

    Mark, I am so lucky to have met you. You are a great supporter of Dr Carson and we appreciate you so much. I am heartbroken that he will not be our president. I hope that we will see Dr Carson in the future. He will be greatly missed!

  • Here’s a link to Dr. Carson’s comments after leaving the presidential race:

  • Tina H.

    It would have been nice to see articles like this when he was still running for president. His voice of reason, sense of integrity, and true character will be missed.

  • Dr Young,
    This is a very touching portrait of a man many have come to honor with all their hearts. We are so very saddened that he is out of the presidential race, but do realize that his very presence changed the dynamic. Perhaps G-d had a good reason to start this process with Carson, calling attention to so many things that were existential problems, and yet not intending to subject him to further discomfort. As Carson moves seamlessly into chairing the My Faith Votes endeavor, perhaps this is indeed where he can do the most good, renewing the faith of many who lost hope in the political process. Votes do count, and Carson has made his case and will continue to educate and make that difference. We all thank him from the bottom of our hearts for his profound efforts on our behalf. He is as selfless an individual as I have ever known.