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In November 1941, Time magazine published a tribute titled “Black Leonardo” in which it praised a most remarkable man, George Washington Carver.
“He is better known as the greatest Negro scientist alive,” noted the authors. Carver was “the man who pioneered new uses for Southern agricultural products; developed 285 new uses for the peanut; and got 118 products, including vinegar, molasses and shoe blacking, from the South’s surplus sweet potatoes.”
A devoted Christian, Carver was regarded by many who knew him as the kindest and most humble man they ever met. He joined Tuskegee Institute in Alabama (now Tuskegee University) at the invitation of Booker T. Washington in 1896. He stayed for 47 years, well over half his life, until his death in 1943.
His abiding love for God’s creation, the natural environment, was abundantly evidenced by his tireless work to care for it, put it to good and creative uses, and enjoy it. He could not traverse a field or walk in the woods without noticing endless wonders and smiling like a child at a birthday party.
In a letter to a friend in 1930, Carver wrote, “I love to think of nature as unlimited broadcasting stations through which God speaks to us every day, every hour and every moment of our lives, if we will only tune in.”
How often do we take a few moments and “tune in”? Probably not often enough. We take so much for granted that we let the miraculous features of nature slip by us unnoticed all the time. If we fully realized what extraordinary gifts we’ve been given in the natural world, we’d be awestruck, constantly.
Being both a Christian and a scientist, Carver had two very good reasons to observe the world with awe. He never viewed science as incompatible with a belief in a Creator. In fact, he saw the Creator’s intelligent design in the logical, ordered world that science reveals. He wrote in 1930, “More and more as we come closer and closer in touch with nature and its teachings are we able to see the Divine.”
To learn more about this remarkable man, watch this one-hour documentary, in which you can see clips of Carver himself.
Christmas, with the awesome wonder it evokes, is an especially poignant time to remember George Washington Carver’s own words. I offer a selection below, along with my very best wishes for a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all readers of El American:
- Fear of something is at the root of hate for others, and hate within will eventually destroy the hater. Keep your thoughts free from hate, and you need have no fear from those who hate you.
- How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of the weak and strong. Because someday in your life you will have been all of these.
- Ninety-nine percent of the failures come from people who have the habit of making excuses. There is no short cut to achievement.
- Start where you are, with what you have. Make something of it and never be satisfied.
- When you can do the common things of life in an uncommon way, you will command the attention of the world.
- No individual has any right to come into the world and go out of it without leaving behind him distinct and legitimate reasons for having passed through it.
- When I was young, I said to God, “God, tell me the mystery of the universe.” But God answered, “That knowledge is for me alone.” So I said, “God, tell me the mystery of the peanut.” Then God said, “Well George, that’s more nearly your size.’ And then he told me.
Lawrence writes a weekly op-ed for El American. He is President Emeritus of the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE) in Atlanta, Georgia; and is the author of “Real heroes: inspiring true stories of courage, character, and conviction“ and the best-seller “Was Jesus a Socialist?“ //
Lawrence escribe un artículo de opinión semanal para El American. Es presidente emérito de la Foundation for Economic Education (FEE) en Atlanta, Georgia; y es el autor de “Héroes reales: inspirando historias reales de coraje, carácter y convicción” y el best-seller “¿Fue Jesús un socialista?”