Dr. Ben Carson

I was delighted with the enthusiasm for reading Down Under, and with the understanding that virtually any young person, regardless of their economic background, can empower himself with the knowledge that comes from reading. This acquisition of knowledge is the antidote to the herd mentality induced by an agenda-driven media.

Reading was emphasized so strongly among the early settlers of America that anyone who finished the second or third grade was completely literate, as is borne out in the beautiful prose that characterized the writing style and letters of the Western frontiers of America in the early 19th century. Many Southern aristocrats also exhibited impressive writing skills and understanding of the English language.

Interestingly, the same highly educated rulers forbade under enormous penalty the teaching of slaves to read. They fully understood how empowering education and knowledge are. It is likely that Frederick Douglass fled the plantation to escape the wrath of his master, who was displeased that his slave was learning to read. Slaves were supposed to be obedient and grateful for the magnanimous protection and provisions afforded them by their "wonderful" masters.

Today many people in America slavishly devote themselves to a political party without engaging in critical analysis of whether the philosophies of that party are really in sync with their true values and with the betterment of their position in society. If decades of such devotion leads to more broken families, more out-of-wedlock births, more involvement with the criminal justice system, more poverty and more dependency on government, maybe it is time to ask whether such devotion is warranted.

I was honored to be able to encourage many of the disadvantaged young people of Australia and New Zealand to take control of their own destinies through education and reading. I was thrilled by the trip sponsors' generous financial contributions to the Carson Scholars Fund, enabling us to reach more American students and emphasize the acquisition of knowledge and the development of humanitarian qualities.

I am convinced that the dream of our Founding Fathers of a free nation filled with knowledgeable and caring people who trust in God and accept personal responsibility is still possible. Each of us has a role to play in the realization of that dream. A big part of that role is self-education. We need to read all kinds of books and articles and experience a variety of electronic media. We should not engage in self-censorship, which creates a proclivity for indoctrination. I am convinced that a well-informed American populace will not be manipulated into relinquishing a beautiful American dream for all.