EDWISE  - EDITOR AND EDUCATION CONSULTANT
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A Year of Living Positively -Day 59

Another day staying at home and it has been snowing continuously outside, which is rare. Here in the city, there has been only a slight of accumulation of snow for it has been light and wet a lot of the time. The forecast for today was that it would be partly sunny, which it has been, but it has kept snowing regardless.

I finally was successful in doing the syllabus system on our new intranet system because somebody finally had the bright idea of sending us instructions. The new system is quite different. It took be twice as long as it has before to get the task done. I have been guessing and fudging things in order to fill all the required boxes with the weekly plan and such, for I have not even seen one of our textbooks, so I had to work out more details in order for the system to save the data. It is done.

I went to sleep around midnight, perked up by some tea taken in the afternoon. Since I've been feeling quite drowsy in the evenings, and starting to wake up as early as five o'clock, I wanted to correct the pattern so as to be able to sleep longer through the early morning. Though I had a nap of about 30 minutes yesterday afternoon, doing the data input and watching a stimulating and inspiring biography in the evening kept me alert longer.

As I will have a couple of nine o'clock classes in the next semester, but no night classes, it would be good for me to get adjusted to an early-to-rise schedule. I do not want to go overboard, however, as going to bed early can deprive me of evening activities and make me too unsociable.

I learned about the amazing human being, Ben Carsen, by watching the biographies. He is a neurosurgeon famous for his creative approach to solving problems of brain deformities and irregularities in children by daring to try innovative surgical techniques, and succeeding. Of his grand achievements are the first successful separation of twins conjoined at the head wherein both babies survived and went on to live healthy lives. Another is the first brain surgery of an infant while the baby was still in the womb. A third example was the semi-hemispheric lobectomy of a child's brain in order to solve the problem of continuous seizures; reviving a shunned technique, he removes the entire left side of the brain of a child, which is possible because the remaining half of the brain of a growing child can adapt and learn to do all the brain's normal functions. 

Those accomplishments would be astounding and praiseworthy enough, but there is a lot more to his story. He is African American and was the first to be accepted into the John Hopkins institute, and maybe the first Afro-American neurosurgeon too. That's not all. He was born and raised in a black ghetto by an illiterate single mother. Besides the poverty and racism in the 50s and 60s, he and his brother experienced an absent mother as well as an absent father because their mother. a laborer, had to hold down two and sometimes three jobs. At 10 years of age, Ben Carsen showed no sign of being academically proficient because he was failing almost every subject. He did not believe in himself and accepted an identity as being the dumb black kid. Pushed by his mother to limit their time in front of the TV and read two books a week, and learn basic facts such as the mathematical times table, his grades began to improve. By the time he was a teenager, his mother had saved enough money to enable them to move and put her kids into an all-black highschool. He was getting top marks and winning scholastic awards, but the bad influences of some troubled kids and youthful male anger affected him. He was very violent, and came close to killing a school friend with a pocket knife and attacking his mother with a hammer. 

Ben Carsen has maintained a faith in Christianity in order maintain moral fortitude, patience and goodness towards others. He said that he overcame his violence when his behaviour shocked him so much that he grew fearful of himself and looked to God for help. He locked himself in the bathroom to repent, pray and read the Bible for three hours. He was never violent after that time. Ben Carsen is as remarkable for that kind of self-imposed corrective behavioral control, as he is for being a scientist who practices religion. He prays every morning and night, and before each surgical operation, so that he can be peaceful and do his job expertly.

What a story! This is one of the most inspirational examples of humankind I've ever come across.



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