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CARSON: One nation is still possible

‘We, the people’ can defeat the purveyors of division

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My wife and I have been on a book tour by bus through several states recently, and I have been struck by the number of people who have already read "One Nation," but also by the large, enthusiastic crowds whose constituents include all political parties. People are concerned about our future as a nation and the poor prioritization of issues by our leaders, to put it mildly.

We wrote "One Nation" to try to convince our fellow Americans that "we the people" are not each other's enemies and that our strength is derived from unity and common sense, which should be ubiquitous. The real enemies are the forces that are constantly trying to divide and conquer. They create divisions based on race, gender, age, education and, especially, income. It is important that we discuss who the purveyors of division are and what drives them to seek a radical alteration in the American way of life.

We discuss the tools used to manipulate the populace into feeling that they should be offended so easily by words, while diverting their attention away from the real issues that desperately cry out for a solution. One of the major keys to avoiding manipulation is knowledge. Our system of government was designed for people who could easily understand the issues and vote intelligently based on knowledge, rather than blindly following political leaders who are often enshrouded with less-than-honorable motives.

One of our major themes in the book is that knowledge is a formidable enemy of falsehood and a formidable ally of truth. There are specific steps that each of us can take, such as reading about something new for a half-hour every day for a year. Such a simple move will profoundly change the life of the reader and will vastly increase his effectiveness as an involved and responsible citizen.

In today's world of widely disseminated information, one can become quite knowledgeable in a variety of areas quite rapidly, regardless of his occupation.

The greatest concerns of people we are encountering on the road revolve around the future of their children and grandchildren as we continue along the path of government growth and escalating expenditure of taxpayer money, essentially ensuring that future generations have lives characterized by significantly reduced economic freedom.

The lessons are abundant in America and throughout the world regarding the consequences of prolonged fiscal irresponsibility. Also, historical records are replete with accounts of the self-destruction of nations, driven by national debt. Many of our leaders are complacent about our precarious financial state because people seem more interested in reality shows on television and sporting events than with our imminent financial collapse. Once again, history informs us that national leaders seldom recognize and act upon economic warnings before disaster occurs.

I think the majority of the American people know we are rapidly approaching the fiscal cliff and are concerned, but not panicked. It is not too late for people of all political stripes to put partisan bickering aside and join forces to combat the unsustainable debt that threatens our future. It is also not too late for responsible voters to notice which leaders refuse to seriously engage in such endeavors and to remove them from office.

It doesn't matter to me that those who despise my warnings will say I'm only promoting my book and trying to make money. From their perspective, they are probably incapable of understanding motives that would differ from theirs. Regardless of what they say, November 2014 will bring perhaps the most consequential midterm elections in history. Combined with the elections of 2016, "we the people" will determine whether traditional American values and traditional interpretations of our Constitution are important to us or whether we prefer to continue down the path of ever-increasing government control of everything, including our lives. Books such as "One Nation: What We Can All Do To Save America's Future" will, by the grace of God, ensure that we go into that election process with our eyes open.

Not only are there no enemies among us, we can and must come together to recapture the values that made us into an exceptional nation. We must use our intellect and energy to unleash the most powerful economic engine the world has ever known. Then we must concentrate on opening the pathways of personal empowerment to the millions of Americans who feel forgotten. Instead of restraining them in positions of dependency, we must provide clear pathways to self-improvement. We can help those who have made mistakes that make it difficult to pursue an education by providing a reasonable amount of money for day care.

By demonstrating true compassion as dictated by Judeo-Christian values, we can make America a place of dreams and success for everyone. We must remember that freedom is not free, and all of us must be involved in its maintenance.

Ben S. Carson is professor emeritus of neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins University and author of the new book "One Nation: What We Can All Do To Save America's Future" (Sentinel).

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