Recently, my husband and I had the privilege of hearing Dr. Ben Carson speak. For the moment, I’d like to put aside his presidential aspirations to focus on one insight he gave us into his life.
Speaking of his adolescence, Dr. Carson told us how closely he came to succumbing to an explosive temper and badly hurting or even murdering someone. By God’s grace, his blows were deflected and the horror at what had almost happened propelled him to put himself in God’s hands and ask for His help.
Just imagine. Instead of becoming a world-famous pediatric neurosurgeon, saving lives and being a blessing to so many, Dr. Carson could have been one more inmate of juvenile hall, on a path to a life either wasted or a curse to those around him.
At the age of seventeen, Chris Wilson did commit a murder and was sentenced to life in prison. While incarcerated he made a decision that even if his life was spent behind bars, he would keep learning and strive to help others. At 33, a judge saw the person behind the sentence and gave Wilson a chance. He is now a hard-working entrepreneur on parole, giving ex-prisoners a chance to re-enter society through his business.
In Israel today, thirteen and fourteen year old boys and girls are acting on the message of hatred they have been receiving since birth and stabbing Israelis. They, like the teenaged Dr. Carson and Mr. Wilson, grew up in a society that failed them, not with a lack of money, but with a lack of positive values.
What to do with teenagers who commit heinous crimes is a valid question. Do we lock them up for the rest of their lives or not? Yet, that question lets us, as a society, off the hook. Imagine if we discovered that the drinking water in a city was poisoning the inhabitants. Citizens would be appalled and the government would provide millions of dollars for compensation to those who lost family members, while making sure that blood transfusions and hospital care for those who were sickened was available. All this is meaningless if no changes are made to the water supply. Even as we were trying to cope with the disaster, the next group of people would be being poisoned.
Isn’t it better to fix the problem and then deal with past consequences rather than keeping the flow of harm running, while racing to cope with the ever-increasing number of casualties? I cringe when politicians speak of the importance of higher education for minorities and lower income families. How about fixing elementary schools first rather than pushing colleges to enroll illiterate individuals with poor study habits? What is the point if at the same time the next batch of first graders is destroyed? I am disgusted when politicians shed crocodile tears for inner city youth while promoting programs that work against marriage and demanding that only ideas that reject traditional Judeo-Christian values must be disseminated in the public square. I recoil when politicians pontificate about violence in the Middle East and don’t withhold funding from groups that run TV shows for preschoolers that teach violence and hatred against Jews and Christians.
Like many Americans, I have views on Dr. Carson’s candidacy. Wherever you fall on that question, we all should recognize the catastrophe in the making as human potential gets wasted while adults, who should be wiser, betray the youth for whom we are responsible.