Thinking Out Loud
2/12/13 at 10:54 PM 0 Comments

A Tale of Two Citizens

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One Loves America, While the Other Despises It!

The lives of President Barak Obama and Dr. Ben Carson share some childhood similarities, but each one's world view is vastly different.

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way…” are the opening lines of the great Charles Dickens novel, A Tale of Two Cities. Published in 1859, the scenes are set in London and Paris before and during the French Revolution. One primary theme centers around class warfare, and the carnage that followed when the poor lower classes of Paris rose up and overthrew the French aristocracy.

Borrowing a little from the Dickens’ title and a little more from the themes buried within the plot, one cannot help but to take a look into the backgrounds of two of America’s most renown African Americans in order to illustrate how they with somewhat similar backgrounds and upbringings grow up to become so opposite in how they see the country of which each have benefited from! A key point stems from how individuals handle adverse conditions and situations in life.

So similar to the classic novel by Dickens, we find haunting comparisons to the lives of two of the world’s most famous men of color, President Barack Hussein Obama and world-renown pediatric neurosurgeon Dr. Benjamin Carson. In their lives we find their beginnings somewhat similar, but yet so different in contrast. How can two boys grow up and follow such divergent paths? Growing up as children, it is apparent that each one experienced the best of times as well as the worst of times! However, in this brief study, there is a lesson to be learned, as we might conclude that our adult perspective of the world and those around us is shaped and molded by those who raise us!

Both grew up with troubled childhoods. Neither benefited from the presence of their fathers, who drifted further away from them as they grew older. President Obama had very limited contact with his father, Kenyan Barack Obama, Sr. He met and quickly married Stanley Dunham, a young white girl from Kansas, through which Barack Jr. was born. Unfortunately, she and the baby were soon abandoned; as Barack Sr. went on to fulfill his own ambitions, including other women and marriages. He only met his father once, and then spent a very short amount of time with him.

He was raised primarily by his mother, who was educated, well-traveled but clung fiercely to a leftist ideology. For her, America was the source of all evil in the world. Strong evidence suggests that she hated the capitalist system that America was founded upon, and constantly hammered that perspective into her son's way of thinking. Stanley eventually met and married Indonesian Muslim Lolo Soetero and moved to that country. When Barack was about 12, him mother sent him to live with his grandparents in Hawaii, where they selected avowed communist Frank Marshall Davis to be his black role model and mentor. Young Barak Obama lived with his grandparents in Hawaii until he graduated from high school and came stateside to start his college studies. He took with him what he had been raised to believe: America and its capitalistic system were evil and Marxism was the solution!

As he described his own upbringing, Dr. Carson and his brother lived totally in a single-parent home, his mother, Sonya having not gone past the third grade. With 23 siblings, her life was not a pleasant one either, spending much of her own childhood in the foster care system in Detroit. At age 13 she married a man 15 years older than her, and from the union two boys were born. First there was Curtis, and two years later came Benjamin. Sonya Carson soon found herself divorced and moving to Boston. Although she saw many opportunities to simply give in to the system, she refused any form of welfare and government dependency. She worked as a cleaning lady and earned a very meager wage. However, she was a fierce protector of her two boys, forbidding them from becoming casualties of their environment! Her strong faith in God propelled her through even the worst of times. Freelance Business Copywriter Wendy Komancheck wrote about Mrs. Carson...

This relationship with God gave her the wisdom to put boundaries around Curtis and Ben. After Ben brought home an unsatisfactory report card in fifth grade, she made house rules to enable the boys to
 become better students. She restricted their television viewing to two programs per week. They were required to visit the library each week and to pick two books to read. Then, Curtis and Ben needed to write a book report for each book that was read. Afterward, the boys were required to hand in their book reports to their mother. Carson insisted on the book reports, library visits, and restricted television viewing because"... they were not living up to their potential."

Her perseverance in their education paid off. Ben Carson's grades began to improve during the second half of fifth grade. He went on to succeed in school. He graduated from high school and later from Yale University. In 1987, Dr. Benjamin Carson became a world-renowned neurosurgeon, leading a team to remove two Siamese twins who were joined at the back of the head. At that time, the removal of the twins was a groundbreaking surgery that was successful.

Although both men came from somewhat troubled backgrounds, each one eventually overcame the most overwhelming odds to find success at what they passionately applied themselves to. Then one could ask “How can one successful man come to love America while the other came to despise it?” If one would listen to the messages of these two men, they reflect totally different messages from opposite ends of the spectrum. Like Dickens’ novel spoke of the rampant terror of Paris during the French Revolution, it also portrayed London as the peaceful city of refuge. Below are some comparison-contrast observations of the two men:

  • -President Obama sees the need to change America in order to accommodate the individual, while Dr. Carson sees the individual changed in order to benefit from what America has to offer.
  • -Both men were greatly influenced by their mothers, as Stanley Dunham stressed radical left-wing ideologies and revolution while Sonya Carson stressed hard work, education and morality.
  • -President Barack Obama has been greatly influenced by the Marxist/ Leninist ideology while Dr. Ben Carson is greatly influenced by the Bible and Christian upbringing.
  • -President Obama sees America as being a major source of strife, poverty and human misery in the world while Dr. Carson sees America as a land of opportunity for all individuals to escape even poverty and find success.Both were educated in the most prestigious universities and excelled in their studies.
  • -President Obama obtained his doctors of jurisprudence from Harvard Law School while Dr. Carson graduated from Yale University and is known as the most successful pediatric neurosurgeon in the world.
  • -Though both professing to be Christians, President Obama has done things to diminish the Christian heritage including declaring in Istanbul, Turkey “We (America) are no longer a Christian nation,” while Dr. Carson declared at the 2013 National Prayer Breakfast “My role model was Jesus.”
  • -President Obama has shown great disdain for America’s traditional institutions, while Dr. Carson has embraced them.
  • -President Obama has demonstrated the desire to create a world in which government is the all-powerful provider while Dr. Carson has expressed that government has limited power, with the duty to ensure that the individual is provided the freedom and opportunity to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
  • -President Obama has expressed the belief in collective salvation, where unless all are saved then none can be; on the other hand, Dr. Carson believes that each individual is solely responsible for his own salvation through Jesus Christ.
  • -President Obama is obsessed with class warfare, while Dr. Carson has expressed an appreciation for people of all levels in society and encourages them to work together and maximize each individual's potential.

In summary, we see two men whose childhoods were somewhat similar, but chose different paths as adults to reflect how they feel about life in America. Actually, if we were to make the assessment and determine who should have turned out to be the most bitter about living in America, it should have been Dr. Carson. He described his mother’s life as having been “horrible.” He saw himself as having a “horrible temper and poor self-esteem.” As Sonya, Curtis and Ben Carson lived in “dire poverty.” He and his family overcame “all of the things that would preclude success” and now share the message that truly reflects the saga of not just the African American experience, but the experience of many Americans of all races and ethnic backgrounds!

So let us conclude that these two great men, like any of us, are driven by what has been instilled within us as we journeyed up the path from childhood to adulthood. We also experience the best of times as well as the worst. However, it is up to each of us as individuals to make the most of who God has made us to be. One man has lived to be practically everything that God has created him to be—not even at the expense of any other person. One has a spirit of peace and great wisdom, while the other can only pretend to be great by continually accusing and blaming. This is the tale of two citizens. Now you choose the person you would want your children to learn from!

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