What Do You Mean, “I Can’t?”

Dr. Ben Carson was in town a number of years ago, and he spoke at Elon University.  Dr. Carson, now the United States Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, was then the world’s most famous pediatric neurosurgeon, the first to successfully separate Siamese twins who were joined at the head. Carson told us in Whitley Auditorium that night that he performs nearly 500 brain surgeries a year.  He said people are amazed at that, but they shouldn’t be.

“You can do much more than you think you can,” Dr. Carson told the packed house. “Your brain is a marvelous creation of God that we cannot even begin to understand.” To illustrate this point, Dr. Carson said that he could lead a blind-folded person who had not seen the audience onto the Whitley stage and take the blind-fold off for one second. Carson said he would put the blindfold back on, lead the person away, and wait 50 years. He could then do brain surgery on the volunteer, find where that one-second memory was stored, and the person could tell him where everyone in the audience was seated, what they looked like, and what they were wearing. “Your brain can process 2 million bits of information per second,” Carson said.

Dr. Carson looked at the stunned audience and asked, “So what are you talking about when you say, ‘I can’t?’ As my mother loved to tell me,” Carson continued, “Son, you are not a victim.”

Besides operating more than 500 times a year during in his career as a surgeon, Dr. Carson spoke at least 75 times at colleges, churches, and anywhere else he believed there would be an attentive audience. He told us that night at Elon that people often ask how he can give 75 speeches a year. Carson said he likes to reply, “Well, it’s not brain surgery!”

Dr. Ben Carson kept us riveted that night as he talked about the marvels of modern science and the complexities of the human brain. But he was interrupted by applause when he talked about moral values and spiritual foundations. He said that the turning point in his life came when he was 12 years old. He lived in a broken home with his mother and a brother in Detroit’s inner-city, and his nickname at school was “Dummy.” He and his brother were continually getting into fights, and one night his mother prayed that God would give her wisdom to know how to raise these two sons by herself. She came up with the idea to turn off the television and only allow one or two programs a week. She told her boys they had to read two books apiece each week from the Detroit Public Library, and they had to turn in book reports to her on each one. She couldn’t read, but Ben and Curtis didn’t know that. Within a year and a half, Ben Carson went from the bottom of the class to the top. His life changed and he credits God with making the difference.

In his book, Think Big, Carson uses the title as an acronym for what he believes are the eight keys to excellence in life. The last letter, G, stands for God. Ben Carson, recipient of 24 honorary doctorates, said, “You never get too big for God. I pray before every surgery. I figure if he created the body, he sure knows how to fix it.”

The Bible says, “A faithful man will abound with blessings.” Ben Carson is greatly blessed, in part, because he has been faithful to give God glory for all he does.

Image by Carsonscholars.org