With a father in the hospital dying, the first thought on my mind walking into a high school ROTC class for the first time was not to hear the sharp commands of the cadet colonel Ben Carson. Yet, this was the tail end of the 1960’s and the nation had a new president, and the soldiers in Vietnam were welcoming new army recruits by the thousands who had to be prepared.
But in the city of Detroit at Southwestern High School, in 1969, there was another war occurring. It was a war of ideology based on anger as the city was recovering from riots still smoldering in its inner core from two years earlier. The community and the high schools had a Black Panther Party that was rising as an ideology being embraced by young black teens and older as the correct revolutionary pathway to social justice.
Yet, that morning as the young ROTC cadets looked on at this tall slender ROTC Commandant of Cadets, it was clear by his clear crisp commands there was a better way. His firm but calm demeanor had a different type of leadership that veered away from violent, bellicose, leftist, overthrow demagoguery offered by the Black Panther Party leaders in the school and the neighborhood.
At this first cadet formation , Cadet Colonel Ben Carson spelled out a litany of expectations and goals that he insisted were not his goals but were to be our goals, if we were to ever leave school and go further and higher. His words were planted as nourishing seeds in the minds of those willing to accept and to create their own pathway toward a freedom from the street to the freedom of the ideals created and tested in the mind.
So as Dr. Ben Carson stood before the annual National Prayer Breakfast to speak to a different audience, he reminded them about the higher aspirations of America and an American Dream. This was a dream not built upon scapegoating, and blame and class division and warfare, but on the higher principles of life which are biblically based. It is easy for America to see; his words were not just his principles and beliefs but belonged to the nation as well.
Yet, there were those including Obama who were upset or outraged. Some stated how dare this doctor scold the president, who had just sat in his quiet surliness and listened to Dr. Ben Carson remind him of the fierce urgency of now and Obama’s own failings.
Dr. Carson responded to those critical of his speech by stating, “Well, when did this become a monarchy? You know, we are the people. The president works for us and, you know, we need to remember that. This is a country that is for of and by the people, not for of and by the government and that is the big battle that we are in right now.”
Ben Carson, spoke boldly about social and political issues from a conservative perspective which were unvarnished. He scolded Obama about his failing health care policies, tax policies that are unworkable and an education policy that is dead on arrival.
Why does Dr. Carson care so fervently and so deeply? It is quite obvious. He loves America and all that God has given him the ability to do and to help others with. Dr. Carson has insisted all along, “I have to come to realize that God does not want to punish us, but rather, to fulfill our lives. God created us, loves us and wants to help us to realize our potential so that we can be useful to others.”
It is clear that Dr. Ben Carson’s leadership did not originate from being divisive or his values, born in the seeds of hate. Rather, his leadership was nurtured in the garden of experiences, and soldered into his soul by life as it is lived in service and sincere commitment in both deed and action.
The cadets who entered that small little ROTC room in the winter of 1969 had no thought that a renaissance of ideas and transformative words were being planted that day and everyday by him.
Outside the doors of the ROTC room were the unharnessed calls by the Black Panther Party followers who derided the black ROTC cadets as Uncle Toms, and worse. Yet inside the walls of the ROTC room was the calming and continued influence of the command of Cadet Colonel Ben Carson.
As each week passed, the officers under his command moved about their training roles with the guidance he imparted, as a leader who was teaching how to take command by first taking responsibility. As he walked around in the back of the room, his eyes and his words were felt, when he made corrective suggestions to officers and sergeants alike, about purpose and perfection.
As the months moved on, after the death of my father, I learned as other cadets who had challenges and remorseful incidents in their own lives, learned how to lead to benefit others. Colonel Carson reminded my twin brother Evin and I, that as young soldiers or as young leaders, each one could either commit to placing blame, making excuses, or be the best, because the nation itself needed the best that each could offer…no excuses accepted.
So as Dr. Ben Carson spoke before the annual National Prayer Breakfast audience, including an apparently irritated President Barack Obama, the gentle but firm words of a former cadet ROTC colonel filled the room. These were transformative words of hope based on faith.
There is a commander who is greater than all who would attempt to claim his title and that is God. The biblical teachings which influenced Dr. Carson’s words at the annual Prayer Breakfast spelled out the responsibilities and challenges Americans face. Eyes on the future, is what Ben Carson counseled young cadets to embrace. He insisted that the future must filled with purpose.
Dr. Ben Carson is a man who is governed by the purposeful biblical principles he learned as a child, imparted and taught as a cadet officer, and practiced throughout his life as a healer. That lesson is concise, and President Obama would do well to listen, and become a leader of all Americans and not the strong-arm belligerent despot of the liberal left. Instead embrace this lesson, Luke 6:45 “The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.”
How fitting that at a National Prayer Breakfast that a man filled with God’s words has the moral courage and leadership to choose God’s time to remind Obama he is not divine nor is he God. Dr. Benjamin Carson not only has gifted hands but he speaks with inspirationally gifted words and a gifted heart, which all America benefits from!
Gifted Hands- the Ben Carson Story