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One Nation: What We Can All Do to Save America's Future - Softcover

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9781595231222: One Nation: What We Can All Do to Save America's Future
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Now in paperback – Dr. Carson’s acclaimed, #1 New York Times bestseller.

“In light of the economic stagnation, swelling debt, out-of-control bureaucracy, and moral decline facing America today, Dr. Ben Carson’s One Nation is about the most optimistic book you will find at your local bookstore. Brimming with confidence about America’s ability to come to a consensus on such issues as debt, welfare, and gay marriage, Carson provides a hopeful look at the problems plaguing society today, along with a set of solutions.” – The Blaze

Dear Reader,

In February 2013 I gave a speech at the National Prayer Breakfast. Standing a few feet from President Obama, I warned my fellow citizens of the dangers facing our country and called for a return to the principles that made America great.


Many Americans heard and responded, but our nation’s decline has continued. Today the danger is greater than ever before, and I have never shared a more urgent message than I do now.

Our growing debt and deteriorating morals have driven us far from the founders’ intent. We’ve made little progress in basic education. Obamacare threatens our health, liberty, and financial future. Media elitism and political correctness are out of control.

Worst of all, we seem to have lost our ability to discuss important issues calmly and respectfully regardless of party affiliation or other differences. We have to come together to solve our problems.

Knowing that the future of my grandchildren is in jeopardy because of reckless spending, godless government, and mean-spirited attempts to silence critics left me no choice but to write this book. I have endeavored to propose a road out of our decline, appealing to every American’s decency and common sense.

If each of us sits back and expects someone else to take action, it will soon be too late. But with your help, I believe that America may once again be “one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

Sincerely,

Ben Carson

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About the Author:

BEN CARSON, MD, was raised by a poor single mother in Detroit. He retired as the director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital after a groundbreaking medical career of more than
thirty-five years. He is the author of eight previous books, including One NationAmerica the Beautiful, and Gifted Hands. A former member of the President’s Council on Bioethics, he is the recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor in the country.

Dr. Carson and his wife and coauthor, CANDY CARSON, are the founders of the Carson Scholars Fund, which recognizes the achievements of deserving young people. They have three grown children and two grandchildren, and now live in Florida.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
THE 2013 NATIONAL PRAYER BREAKFAST

I was totally shocked when in the fall of 2012 my office received a call inquiring whether I would be willing to give the keynote address for the 2013 National Prayer Breakfast. I had already had the pleasure and honor of being the keynote speaker for the 1997 National Prayer Breakfast when President Clinton was in office. That speech was well received, even by President Clinton, despite my pointed comments about integrity in public office. “I just want to know who is responsible for putting this guy on before me,” he quipped when he came to the podium after my talk. The audience roared with laughter and he went on to give his usual very good speech. The event had gone as well as it could have, but I didn’t give a second thought as to whether I’d be asked again.

Stunned by the request, I asked if anyone had ever done it twice and I was informed that only one person fit into that category and that was Billy Graham. I prayed about it and felt that there was a reason why I was being asked for a repeat performance. I talked by telephone and in person with members of the National Prayer Breakfast staff and they informed me that many senators thought that I was the right person not only to encourage people but also to help bring a sense of unity back to our nation’s capital. I was honored to accept the challenge and immediately begin praying for the necessary wisdom and words to gently address the spiritual, financial, and moral decline of America, a difficult task in the highly partisan atmosphere that exists in Washington, DC, today.

The event organizers were obviously familiar with many of my public speeches in which I had taken no prisoners. I call it as I see it without dancing around a topic in order to spare everyone’s feelings. They were therefore somewhat concerned that I might say something that would offend the president. I indicated that I had no intention of offending anyone, the president included. Nevertheless, the organizers were still quite interested in receiving a copy of my transcript just to be on the safe side. I informed them that the 1997 National Prayer Breakfast committee had also wanted a copy of my notes but because I don’t speak from a transcript, I wasn’t able to provide them with a copy at that time either.

The breakfast was held at the Washington Hilton in the District of Columbia. The predictable protocols were shared by security and the Secret Service the evening before the event. And in the morning, I had the opportunity to chat with other participants in the Green Room over breakfast appetizers. I recalled that the menu in 1997 was considerably more varied and robust, and thinking that the fact that the selections were meager was a good thing since the federal budget is under a lot of pressure. I also remember the affability of the president and First Lady in the 1997 receiving line. They were both very gracious and easy to talk to. This year, President and Mrs. Obama were not present in the Green Room, so there really was no opportunity to meet them or chat beforehand. However, there were many well-known dignitaries in the platform party there. Once we were on stage, I was seated on one side of the podium between Vice President Biden and Senator Schumer of New York, while the president was seated on the other side of the lectern between his wife and Senator Sessions of Alabama.

Before my speech, Bible readings and inspirational comments were made by a variety of people. I was introduced, followed by very generous applause, and began my speech by reading several Bible verses that seemed particularly applicable to the leadership in Washington, DC, today. The text of the speech follows:

Thank you so much. Mr. President, Mr. Vice President, Mrs. Obama, and distinguished guests . . . which includes everybody. Thank you so much for this wonderful honor to be at this stage again. I was here 16 years ago, and the fact that they invited me back means that I didn’t offend too many people, so that was great.

I want to start by reading four texts which will put into context what I’m going to say.

Proverbs 11:9: Evil words destroy one’s friends; wise discernment rescues the godly.

Proverbs 11:12: It is foolish to belittle a neighbor; a person with good sense remains silent.

Proverbs 11:25: The generous prosper and are satisfied; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.

2 Chronicles 7:14: Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and heal their land.

You know, I have an opportunity to speak in a lot of venues. This is my fourth speech this week. And I have an opportunity to talk to a lot of people. And I’ve been asking people what concerns you? What are you most concerned about in terms of the spirituality and the direction of our nation and our world? I’ve talked to very prominent Democrats . . . very prominent Republicans. And I was surprised by the uniformity of their answers. And those (answers) have informed my comments this morning.

Now, it’s not my intention to offend anyone. I have discovered, however, in recent years that it’s very difficult to speak to a large group of people these days and not offend someone. People walk around with their feelings on their shoulders waiting for you to say something. “Ah, did you hear that?” and they can’t hear anything else you say. The PC police are out in force at all times. I remember once I was talking to a group about the difference between a human brain and a dog’s brain, and a man got offended. He said, “You can’t talk about dogs like that!” People just focus in on that . . . completely miss the point of what you’re saying. And we’ve reached the point where people are afraid to actually talk about what they want to say because somebody might be offended. People are afraid to say “Merry Christmas” at Christmastime. Doesn’t matter whether the person you’re talking to is Jewish or, you know, whether they’re any religion. That’s a salutation, a greeting of goodwill. We’ve got to get over this sensitivity. You know it keeps people from saying what they really believe.

You know, I’m reminded of a very successful young businessman. And he loved to buy his mother these exotic gifts for Mother’s Day. [One year] he ran out of ideas, and then he ran across these birds. These birds were cool, you know? They cost $5,000 apiece. They could dance, they could sing, they could talk! He was so excited, he bought two of them. Sent them to his mother, couldn’t wait to call her up on Mother’s Day, “Mother, Mother, what’d you think of those birds?” And she said, “They was good.” [laughter] He said, “No, no, no! Mother, you didn’t eat those birds? Those birds cost $5,000 apiece! They could dance, they could sing, they could talk!” And she said, “Well, they should have said something.” [laughter] And, you know, that’s where we’ll end up, too, if we don’t speak up for what we believe. [laughter] And, you know, what we need to do—[applause]what we need to do in this PC world is forget about unanimity of speech and unanimity of thought, and we need to concentrate on being respectful to those people with whom we disagree.

And that’s when I think we begin to make real progress. And one last thing about political correctness, which I think is a horrible thing, by the way. I’m very, very compassionate, and I’m not ever out to offend anyone. But PC is dangerous. Because you see, in this country, one of the founding principles was freedom of thought and freedom of expression. And it muffles people. It puts a muzzle on them. And at the same time, keeps people from discussing important issues while the fabric of this society is being changed. And we cannot fall for that trick. And what we need to do is start talking about things . . . talking about things that are important. Things that were important in the development of our nation.

One of those things was education. I’m very passionate about education because it made such a big difference in my life. But here we are at a time in the world—the information age, the age of technology—and yet 30% of people who enter high school in this country do not graduate. 44% of people who start a four-year college program do not finish it in four years. What is that about? Think back to a darker time in our history. Two hundred years ago when slavery was going on it was illegal to educate a slave, particularly to teach them to read. Why do you think that was? Because when you educate a man, you liberate a man. And there I was as a youngster placing myself in the same situation that a horrible institution did because I wasn’t taking advantage of the education. I was a horrible student. Most of my classmates thought I was the stupidest person in the world. They called me “Dummy.” I was the butt of all the jokes.

Now, admittedly, it was a bad environment. Single-parent home . . . you know my mother and father had gotten divorced early on. My mother got married when she was 13. She was one of 24 children. Had a horrible life. Discovered that her husband was a bigamist, had another family. And she only had a third-grade education. She had to take care of us. Dire poverty. I had a horrible temper and poor self-esteem. All the things that you think would preclude success. But I had something very important. I had a mother who believed in me. And I had a mother who would never allow herself to be a victim no matter what happened . . . never made excuses, and she never accepted an excuse from us. And if we ever came up with an excuse, she always said, “Do you have a brain?” And if the answer was yes, then she said, “Then you could have thought your way out of it.” It doesn’t matter what John or Susan or Mary or anybody else did or said. And it was the most important thing she did for my brother and myself. Because if you don’t accept excuses, pretty soon people stop giving them, and they start looking for solutions. And that is a critical issue when it comes to success.

Well, you know, we did live in dire poverty. And one of the things that I hated was poverty. You know, some people hate spiders, some people hate snakes . . . I hated poverty. I couldn’t stand it. [laughter] But, you know, my mother couldn’t stand the fact that we were doing poorly in school. And she prayed and she asked God to give her wisdom . . . what could she do to get her young sons to understand the importance of developing their minds, so that they could control their own lives? And you know what, God gave her the wisdom . . . at least in her opinion. My brother and I didn’t think it was that wise. Because it was to turn off the TV, let us watch only two or three TV programs during the week, and with all that spare time read two books apiece from the Detroit Public Libraries and submit to her written book reports which she couldn’t read, but we didn’t know that. She’d put check marks and highlights and stuff—but, you know I just hated this. And my friends were out having a good time. Her friends would criticize her. They would say, “You can’t make boys stay in the house reading books, they’ll grow up and they’ll hate you.” And I would overhear them and say, “Mother, you know they’re right.” But she didn’t care, you know.

But, after a while, I actually began to enjoy reading those books, because we were very poor. But between the covers of those books I could go anywhere, I could be anybody, I could do anything. I began to read about people of great accomplishment. And as I read those stories, I began to see a connecting thread. I began to see that the person who has the most to do with you and what happens to you in life, is you. You make decisions. You decide how much energy you want to put behind that decision. And I came to understand that I had control of my own destiny. And at that point I didn’t hate poverty anymore, because I knew it was only temporary. I knew I could change that. It was incredibly liberating for me, made all the difference.

To continue on that theme of education, in 1831 Alexis de Tocqueville came to America to study this country. The Europeans were fascinated. How could a fledgling nation, barely 50 years old already be competing with them on virtually every level? This was impossible. De Tocqueville was going to sort it out. He looked at our government and he was duly impressed by the three branches of government—four now because now we have special interest groups, but it was only three back in those days. He said, “WOW, this is really something,” and then he said, “but let me look at their educational system,” and he was blown away. You see, anybody who had finished the second grade was completely literate. He could find a mountain man on the outskirts of society who could read the newspaper and could have a political discussion . . . could tell him how the government worked.

If you really want to be impressed, take a look at the chapter on education in my latest book, America the Beautiful, which I wrote with my wife—it came out last year, and in that education chapter you will see questions extracted from a sixth-grade exit exam from the 1800s—a test you had to pass to get your sixth-grade certificate. I doubt most college graduates today could pass that test. We have dumbed things down to that level. And the reason that is so dangerous is because the people who founded this nation said that our system of government was designed for a well-informed and educated populace. And when they become less informed, they become vulnerable. Think about that . . . our system of government. That is why education is so vitally important.

Now some people say, “Ahhh, you’re overblowing it, things aren’t that bad, and you’re a doctor, a neurosurgeon. Why are you concerned about these things?” Got news for you. FIVE doctors signed the Declaration of Independence. Doctors were involved in the framing of the Constitution, the Bill of Rights . . . a whole bunch of things. It’s only been in recent decades that we’ve extracted ourselves, which I think is a big mistake.

We need doctors, we need scientists, engineers. We need all those people involved in government, not just lawyers. I don’t have anything against lawyers, but you know, here’s the thing about lawyers . . . I’m sorry, but I got to be truthful . . . got to be truthful—what do lawyers learn in law school? To win . . . by hook or by crook . . . you’ve got to win. So you got all these Democrat lawyers, and you got all these Republican lawyers and their sides want to win. We need to get rid of that. What we need to start thinking about is, how do we solve problems?

Now, before I get shot, let me finish. I don’t like to bring up problems without coming up with solutions. My wife and I started the Carson Scholars Fund 16 years ago after we heard about an international survey looking at the ability of eighth graders in 22 countries to solve math and science problems, and we came out number 21 out of 22. We only barely beat out number 22 . . . very concerning.

We’d go to these schools and we’d see all these trophies: All-State Basketball, All-State Wrestling, All-State this, that, and the other. The quarterback was the big man on campus. What about the intellectual superstar? What did...

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  • PublisherSentinel
  • Publication date2015
  • ISBN 10 1595231226
  • ISBN 13 9781595231222
  • BindingPaperback
  • Number of pages256
  • Rating
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