I recently finished reading a wonderful book. This is a book that everyone, but especially young people, needs to read:
George Washington Carver by John Perry
The book, as I’m sure you would assume, is a biography of George Washington Carver. All that many people know of Carver is that he figured out a lot of uses for the peanut. That is certainly true, but there was so much more to his life. The author, John Perry, describes how Carver went from being a slave to one of the most respected men in America. Despite the fact that he lived during an era of intense racism and prejudice, he was greatly respected and admired. In fact, near the end of his life he was good friends with one of the wealthiest and influential men in America, Henry Ford.
I did not know much about Carver’s life before reading this biography, so I have nothing with which to compare it and have no way of attesting to its accuracy. However, it seems to me Perry did an excellent job with this work and gave a balanced view of Dr. Carver’s life. There were even times, while reading, the kindness and goodness of Carver’s character brought tears to my eyes.
I do not know whether Carver was a New Testament Christian or not, that is certainly not for me to decide. But whether in the body of Christ or not, there is a great deal we can learn from his mind and his character.
1) Carver saw God in the creation! Every morning he would rise early and go and find new plants to study. His fascination with what could only be credited to a Creator, never ceased. In fact, it was that fascination that drove him to make many of his ground-breaking discoveries. Perry wrote concerning Carver, “The more he learned about the beauty, complexity, and interconnectedness of the world, the more convinced he was that it could only have been formed supernaturally, by the hand of God.”
All of us could learn from this. Romans 1:20 says, “For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.” Think about that for a moment: if you want to clearly perceive some of the invisible attributes of God, take a look at “the things that have been made!”
2) Carver did not believe in entitlements! As I read his story, I often thought how the people involved in the Occupy Wall Street could benefit from what I was reading. We don’t know hard times! Carver, and those who lived during his era, knew hard times! We don’t know a gap between rich and poor like he knew a gap between rich and poor. Yet, Carver knew that the answer wasn’t, take from the rich and give it to the poor. The answer was to, “Work hard and make a difference in the world.” He told his students to look neither, “up to the rich or down to the poor.” In other words, the rich were not to be envied and the poor were not to be looked down upon.
Today, where many see despair and hopelessness, I believe Carver would see abundant opportunity. Where they see insurmountable circumstances, Carver would see circumstances that were begging to be overcome with hard work and ingenuity. I think this passage of Scripture describes Carver well, and would be most beneficial to the “Occupy” crowd, “Aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands…and be dependent on no one” (1 Thessalonians 4:11-12).
3) Carver knew how to deal with racism! One of the greatest areas of emphasis, in this biography, is the area of race. Most young people today have not seen racism like Carver saw racism. Not that racism does not exist today, because it certainly does. Racism is sinful ignorance and arrogance. However, Carver faced the ugliness of others with commendable nobility! Carver met opposition and resistance his entire life, because of his race. But, as Perry wrote, “Carver didn’t fight for his rights; rather he proved through patient example that he–and by extension, all blacks everywhere–was worthy of them.”
Carver understood that minds of ignorant and close-minded people will seldom be changed by arguing or fighting. Carver knew that the only way to change the minds of those who saw the black man as inferior was to prove himself by doing something of value. Perry wrote, “Carver believed that the way to overcome prejudice and discrimination was not by complaining, but by proving that the notion of black inequality was a myth born of ignorance.”
Carver influenced others to use this type of resistance. One young man wrote to Carver about a conflict he had experienced with a man who was “bitterly opposed” to him, “I never retaliated one bit; I used righteousness, patience, and self-control and won out…He comes to my house now, sits down and talks about how to get through life. He is a completely converted man…”
If we could all be so wise! Scripture says it best, “Overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21).
As with anyone, there will be things in his life with which you will certainly disagree. But George Washington Carver was quite definitely a man from whom we could all learn something. I would highly recommend this book for your consideration.
I love you and the God of Creation loves you,
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”