Every day thousands of Virginians suffer from the debilitating effects of Lyme disease. I know this firsthand because I am one of them. A few years ago, I was diagnosed with Lyme disease. I had to take three months off of my sophomore year of high school, and had to take a year off again, this time from college to recuperate once more.
Thankfully, I was treated in time and have slowly but steadily begun to recover, but others are not so lucky and suffer from the lingering untreated side effects of this terrible disease for years. My doctor thinks I was born with Lyme disease, and only after multiple testings was the diagnosis confirmed with false negatives.
Fortunately, our congresswoman, Barbara Comstock, has been working hard for years to help improve the treatment of Lyme disease. As a state delegate, she passed the Lyme Disease Information Disclosure Act to mitigate the problem of unreliable tests by requiring state health officials to provide information to doctors regarding the possibility of inaccurate test results. This landmark bill made Virginia the first state in the country to pass Lyme disease legislation.
And since going to Congress, she has continued to bring awareness to this disease. She joined the House Lyme Caucus and has co-sponsored several important pieces of legislation related to this issue. She cosponsored the 21st Century Cures Act, which establishes an Interagency Lyme and Tick-Borne Disease Working Group, responsible for overseeing federal activity on Lyme disease and proposing changes in Lyme disease research and treatment programs. In addition, she supported the Tick-Born Disease Research Accountability and Transparency Act, which provides the Department of Health and Human Services more funding for research on Lyme disease.
Ah, the beginning of football season. This year however, seems more than a game – it has become a public forum to voice opinions and beliefs.
The National Football League kicked-off another glorious season of football, the ever-so popular spectacle that millions of us know and love. We waited eagerly and anxiously for the regular season to commence. We shopped for food and beverages. We invited our friends over to share our wonderful spread laid out on our kitchen counters and coffee tables. We scurried to find a comfortable chair for viewing our favorite team. We rubbed our hands together anxiously, clapped and high-fived each other in great anticipation. Suddenly, the TV camera scrolled slowly over to one lone player kneeling (sitting) on the sideline instead of standing during the national anthem. Is he disrespecting our beloved American flag?
Watching him, many of us feel dispirited and deflated as if someone had snuck up and socked us right in the stomach – knocking the air out of us with one big blow. Confusion followed by anger set in for many as the TV broadcaster explained the reasoning for the player’s behavior.
As the story unfolded, many people began to realize what the protesting player was attempting to do while on one knee. We learn that through his actions, the player was seeking to draw attention to a subject that the he feels strongly about – race inequality in our country. As a first generation Syrian, I too feel strongly about the topic; however I am just not sure I would use a national football game as my platform to do so.
Racism in this country is a subject that has been greatly talked about, debated and unquestionably in the past few years, a topic that has been in the forefront of our society’s dialogue. In many ways, it has divided our country with some Americans deeply believing more needs to be done to remove racism and inequality from our country while others feel that we are a country that recognizes differences and allows all people to be treated fairly – still others simply ignore the issue or don’t want to get involved in the social debate. It is a passionate issue with many strong opinions.
So why use a football game to promote the issue or any social issue? If not at the football game, where should we tell the player to go to make his opinion heard in such magnitude? Clearly, whatever your opinion is on his action, it is undeniable that it has drawn a great deal of attention and has caused emotional chaos and division among fans and others. Some fans have been buying the player’s number jersey in support of his stance while others have threatened to turn off the game all together.
Although again, I am not sure if this forum is the best to voice opinions, I do have to wonder if this player stood on one knee during the national anthem in support or protest of another social issues would it have caused such a stir?
Is the real chaos created not by the action but by the issue?
Racism is a highly passionate issue and has deeply divided this country in recent years. It is at the forefront of society’s biggest issues. What would have happened if the issue of his protest was something that people could actually unite around? Animal welfare? Wind rnergy? Eco-farming? Would it have had the same reaction in our country today?
I admit – I am highly passionate about helping the plight of so many animals in this country. It is an issue rarely and publically discussed or debated. If that player had knelt during the anthem in solidarity of the millions of homeless, young and healthy dogs and cats that are put to sleep by our failed system, would the football fans have reacted differently? I am guessing so. Would we have supported our beloved pets that we as a nation have let down and continue to let down? Probably so.
I know racism and inequality is a huge issue in this country. But I also know there are many other societal issues that need the same public attention this achieved. I know that there are millions of animals who have no one to stand up for them and fight for their lives. No one is getting on bended knee for them.
It is undeniable that the attention this player has gotten with his stance and his action has gotten national and international attention. I have to wonder if animal rights would have gotten the same level of attention, debate and division among the fans.
I wish it could have.
In a unanimous opinion handed down on Sept. 8, the Virginia Supreme Court affirmed the State Corporate Commission’s decision to sustain an increase in the Dulles Greenway tolls. This unfortunate decision should be a further call to action for our local elected officials to move as quickly as possible to build local alternatives to the Greenway.
Buying the Greenway at a reasonable price using commonwealth revenue bonds is worth exploring, but the Greenway currently holds more than $1 billion in debt. The road’s value is well below $1 billion. Our best option is to fund local alternative routes to the Greenway so commuters no longer have to pay $6.20 each way, every day – or be endlessly stuck on Waxpool Road.
That’s why I ran on this theme last year, and that’s why this year in the county budget, the Board of Supervisors endorsed our efforts to build Greenway alternatives. Shellhorn Road extended to Sterling Boulevard at Route 28 has been added to the county’s Capital Improvement Program, and now, county staff and our office are already working on land acquisition and finalizing the alignment.
This road, along with others like extending West Wind Drive to Route 606, will provide a local toll-free bypass to the Greenway. The Route 28 District Commission, on which I serve as vice-chair, has approved and funded the widening of Route 28 in both directions. Continuing to eliminate traffic signals on Route 7 will also help. More east-west roads will save commuters money, but will also make Loudoun more business-friendly. Who wants to pay $6 tolls to travel into Loudoun to do business? We need businesses to locate along the Metro corridor, and these roads will allow workers to drive here without a massive added expense.
These projects must be our county’s top transportation priority and together with the House of Delegates, state Senate and the governor, we should be doing everything in our power to help fund these projects as fast as possible.
Our focus should be on funding sources provided by the Virginia Department of Transportation, the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority and available proffer funds. Our county, thanks to our NTVA members from Loudoun, led by Del. Randy Minchew, has been the largest per capita recipient of NVTA road improvement financing in the region. Congresswoman Barbara Comstock also did her part by leading the efforts to pass a federal transportation bill to give Virginia more access to road funding.
Our delegation has been successful at attracting funding for Loudoun projects, but it’s time to complete the paradigm shift and help these officials continue this success by getting more Greenway alternatives funded in the years ahead.
Ron Meyer (R)
Loudoun County Supervisor, Broad Run
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