World-renowned retired neurosurgeon and former Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Dr. Ben Carson stopped in Pampa on Thursday to give a presentation for the Pampa Education Foundation.
The Pampa News visited with Dr. Carson during his busy schedule to talk about being in Pampa.
“I love small towns,” Dr. Carson said. “I spent some of my time as a young person in a town called Holly, Mich. It’s a big part of what makes America great.
“People tend to be real. It’s hard to hide in a small town. People get to know who you really are and it doesn’t do a lot of good to pretend.”
Before the big show at M.K. Brown, Dr. Carson visited each of the Pampa elementary schools and McNeely Fieldhouse to give a presentation to the youth in Pampa.
“The big message is that the person that has the most to do with what happens to you is you,” Dr. Carson said. “That’s a particularly important message when you have things like critical race theory trying to tell people that the most important determinant is what they look like. That’s really antithetical to the whole American philosophy.”
Dr. Carson used the acronym, T.H.I.N.K.B.I.G., at the elementary schools: Talent, Honesty, Insight, Nice, Knowledge, Books, In-Depth and God.
Dr. Carson founded the American Cornerstone Institute, which aims to keep the principles of faith, liberty, community and life a part of the foundation of this nation.
“Several of us at HUD had felt that we hadn’t completed our mission,” Dr. Carson said. “We were planning on a second term. There was still a lot that needed to be done. I was initially going to retire, but a few weeks after the election and looking at the general trend at how things were going, it was very clear we were going to be heading downhill very steeply.
“We needed to get back to those principles like faith, liberty, community and life that are so important as establishing us as the pinnacle power of the world.”
The ACI has since also created the Little Patriots program, which hopes to keep those values instilled in children and remind them they live in a great nation.
“We are making sure our kids get the true history, warts and all, so that they come away being proud, not ashamed, of this country and proud of their citizenship,” Dr. Carson said. “A country cannot long survive if its citizens are not enthusiastic about it.”
As the ACI looks to the near future, the website (www.americancornerstone.org) is loaded with content from op-eds, conversation series and will soon feature a podcast.
“We have the ‘A more perfect union’ program meant to help American adults understand our government, how it works and how they need to get involved,” Dr. Carson said. “If all of the good people say, ‘Well I don’t want to get involved, I don’t want my family to get hurt,’ then who is left? It’s not going to work out too well.”
The ACI will also be expanding the Little Patriots Program with free kindergarten through fifth grade curriculum and hope to expand it to middle school.
Dr. Carson’s faith, which is a cornerstone to ACI and the “G” in the aforementioned acronym, has always been a critical part of his life.
“So many of the things I got involved in, from the outside they looked impossible, but they got done,” Dr. Carson said. “And I know it wasn’t me, it played a huge role. But also, the whole concept of Godly principles of loving your neighbor and treating people the right way.
“Whatever has taken possession of us, to make us want to ‘cancel’ our neighbors, it’s evil. It’s the complete opposite of Godly principles.”
As Dr. Carson looked back on his career, he said his proudest moment was the establishment of the Carson Scholars fund.
“We’re celebrating the 25th year this year and we gave out our 10,000th scholarship this year,” Dr. Carson said. “It doesn’t only recognize academic achievement, but also humanitarian qualities.
“We’re trying to develop the next generation of leaders. We need people who are not only smart, but care about others. If we don’t bring that component in, we have more of the same of what we have now. That’s pretty awful.”
Dr. Carson also loves seeing those who had a second chance of life because of neurosurgery.
“The proudest moments are when people come up to me in the airport or someplace and say, ‘My mom and dad said you operated on me as a little baby and I just want to thank you,’” Dr. Carson said. “That’s always a special moment.
“While I was secretary of HUD, at one point I went to go to talk to the FEMA staff, with about a thousand of them to thank them for the incredible job they did. Afterwards, a couple of them came up to me and said, ‘Hey doc, you recognize this scar?’ It’s always so good to see people you worked on turn out well and have a real second chance at life.”
At M.K. Brown, Dr. Carson wanted to drive home the idea that we are not each other’s enemies.
“We have to stop being manipulated into thinking we are,” Dr. Carson said. “Also, (I’m going to talk about) the concept of how you actually help people. You don’t want to make people dependent, you want to make people independent. That’s the whole concept of teaching a man to fish, not giving him fish.”
The Pampa News would like to thank Dr. Ben Carson for taking time out of his busy schedule for this interview.
For more information on the American Cornerstone Institute, visit www.americancornerstone.org.
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