PINEHURST — A politician, a brain surgeon and a philanthropist walked into a room Friday night in Pinehurst and it was the same person. Dr. Ben Carson delivered a lecture as part of the Governor James E. Holshouser Jr. Lecture Series and the neurosurgeon turned presidential candidate did not disappoint the crowd of approximately 700 who attended the sold-out event.
Carson was delayed in his arrival to Moore County due to flight cancellations commented during his lecture that he was leaving it up to God whether he wanted the 70-year-old former surgeon and his wife Candy to travel to the Sandhills. Ultimately, Carson and his wife found a charter flight to North Carolina.
Before the main event, Carson met with nursing students at Sandhills Community College and mingled with attendees at a reception catered by Elliotts on Linden. The line to get a photo with Carson wrapped around the cavernous Dempsey Student Center on the SCC campus.
The lecture, named in memory of former North Carolina governor and Pinehurst resident Jim Holshouser, seeks to examine current events through “unbiased analysis, rational thinking, varied viewpoints and a calm look at all sides of the issue under discussion.”
When Carson took the stage at the Bradshaw Performing Arts Center for his formal lecture, the crowd welcomed him enthusiastically. He began with a disclaimer that he was not politically correct and would stick to his trademark style of straight talk.
Carson provided a brief biographical background, which included that he grew up in Detroit with his mother and brother and had dreamed since the age of eight that he would become a doctor. With his customary dry humor, Carson said he initially wanted to be a missionary doctor because of the good they did around the world but decided that he wanted to be rich and so decided to become a psychiatrist like the ones he saw on television.
Carson fulfilled his dream of becoming a doctor but not as a psychiatrist. He pursued a medical career in neurosurgery and rose quickly to be the director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins at the age of 33 — the youngest chief of pediatric neurosurgery in the U.S. His medical achievements also included the first reported separation of conjoined twins joined at the back of the head, new procedures to treat brain-stem tumors and over 100 medical publications.
Carson did not dwell on his accomplishments during his lecture. Instead, he focused on his personal philosophy and some today’s most hot-button political issues. Carson said he rejected a societal trend that paints blacks as victims and whites as villains. He pointed to his own personal story as a rebuttal.
The former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development under President Donald Trump also introduced the crowd to his faith, liberty, community, and life concept which is the basis of his American Cornerstone Institute. Carson said the institute was not a think tank but a think and do tank.
He wove the tents of faith, liberty, community and life throughout the lecture. Faith was at the forefront of much of Carson’s most powerful statements — and the quips that drew frequent interruptions of applause from the crowd.
Carson distinguished humans from animals in a discussion of brains. He recognized the large frontal lobes in human brains as the key to memory, creativity and planning. He told the crowd God gave us better brains so we can see in others “the content of their character and not the color of their skin.”
In the closing moments of the lecture, the author of nine books discussed why everyone should “think big” — a reference to his 1992 book “Think Big: Unleashing Your Potential for Excellence.” Carson detailed the acronym which stands for T=talents and time, H=hope and honesty, I=insight, N=nice, K=knowledge, B=books, I=in-depth, G=God.
After more than an hour of speaking, Carson left the stage to a standing ovation but was not finished with his visit to Moore County. Saturday morning, Carson was joined by Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson and other religious and political leaders for a prayer breakfast at Pinehurst Resort.