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Dr. Ben Carson and the Heresy of Preaching Self-Reliance


Once upon a time, America was called the “Land of Opportunity.” It was never called the “Land of Guaranteed Success.”

Dr. Banjamin Carson speaks at the 2013 National Prayer Breakfast (Photo Credit: C-SPAN) 

Political pundits on both the left and right were blown away last week. From such an unexpected place, the annual National Prayer Breakfast, a speech touting pure, uncomplicated logic came from Dr. Ben Carson and served as a refreshing bit of inspiration at a time when Americans have been losing hope.

And while his message of self-reliance and accountability was endearing, President Obama’s noticeable contempt look for such heresy was almost as satisfying.

Dr. Carson had dared to offer an alternative to Obama’s vision of government’s role. Within less than a half hour, Dr. Carson shredded to pieces the liberal vision of America. He took aim at political correctness, the educational system, the tax code ,and then set his sights on what he knows best: the healthcare field. While America has heard over and over again these last four years that government is the answer, the self-made surgeon was living, breathing proof that dedication and self-reliance is the surest way to prosperity.

Dr. Carson came from nothing. He lived in poverty, had a short temper and, not surprisingly, did badly in school. His mother, however, refused to allow their dire circumstances to be used as an excuse for failure in life. She instilled responsibility and a reverence for education in her son. He became a world-famous neurosurgeon and the living embodiment of the American success story at a time when such rags-to-riches stories have become entirely too rare.

Once upon a time, America was called the “Land of Opportunity.” It was never called the “Land of Guaranteed Success.” To make it in America, one had to be willing to work hard and utilize the opportunities that this wild, relatively-new nation provided. Somewhere, though, a great moral decay took place and excuses became more common than success stories.

The narrative that defines modern progressivism is that government is the creator- the creator of opportunity, the creator of prosperity, the creator of social progress. Every expansion of government’s role in the lives of citizens has been sold as a means of helping to create; but the truth is that it is the individual, the self-reliant chooser of his or her own destiny that is the creator of social and economic mobility. Dr. Carson is the living embodiment of that fact; and the liberals hate him for it.

Democratic Representative Jan Schakowsky abhorred the speech, saying, “I think it’s not really an appropriate place to make this kind of political speech, and to invoke God as support for that kind of view.” But where else should a learned man of faith and science espouse a belief that each of us has a duty to ourselves and our communities to take responsibility for our own success in this world? I’m sure Schakowsky would have preferred the tired liberal mantra of “trust unto the government,” but truth be told, I’m much more likely to take advice from the self-made neurosurgeon over the institution that brought us “cash for clunkers” and that can’t seem to figure out a fiscally viable way to deliver the mail.

In the immediate aftermath of Dr. Carson’s speech, the web blew up with calls for “Ben Carson for president 2016.” At first, I thought, “Wouldn’t that be something?” But after a moment or two, I realized that as America is engulfed in the petty squabbles and misdirections provided by career politicians, so detached from the people they are supposed to represent, we could do a whole lot worse than an intelligent, straight-talking man with character who believes in America and the power and potential of the individual.

Does Dr. Carson have all the answers? Of course not. And unlike the president and his administration, he has the humility to say so. But he seems to have a grasp on what has made America great better than anyone I have heard in a long time. If nothing else, having a president that believes in America and our founding principles would be a welcomed departure from our current commander-in-chief and a tremendous step in the right direction.

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