The other day a friend asked:
“Can you help me with a political problem?”
“What is it?” said I.
“This campaign’s dialog is all negative and unsettling. How can I find something to be enthusiastic about? I want to contribute positively, not just watch my country go down hill.”
He has a point. Most campaigns concentrate in the opposition’s sins and weaknesses, whether real, false or imaginary. Few propose positive policy options, because change, no matter how needed, will antagonize powerful beneficiaries of the status quo. Here are exceptions my friend could support enthusiastically.
A major key to our nation’s future is the quality of education it offers, and America has fallen behind its international competitors in K-12 schooling. For this fiscal year Loudoun County’s Board of Supervisors, considering schools an annoying cost, cut the Board of Education’s budget proposals, and planned to close several small schools in order to reduce the county tax rate.
The Middleburg community objected to closing their elementary school serving 67 youngsters. Some determined supporters grabbed the ball, and this month a new charter elementary school, under local supervision, welcomed 120 K-5 students to classes in the existing Middleburg Elementary building. Here is a chance for volunteers to join in proving the worth of charter schools testing non-traditional ways of educating kids. (Ed. Note: America has about 6,000 charter schools; Virginia now has six.)
Political gridlock is endemic in Washington, as each party’s leadership moves away from the politically moderate center toward its extreme wing. Increasingly virulent, misleading and often untruthful personal attacks on opposing candidates build anger and distrust between Republicans and Democrats, making civil dialog and legislative compromises impossible. What is badly needed are legislators who will reach across the aisle to talk to the other party as fellow Americans meeting to solve our nation’s problems.
The 2014 election is a time to encourage those running to campaign, and later act, first as Americans, and only secondarily as Republicans or Democrats. Virginia’s Senatorial candidate this fall is Mark Warner, a successful businessman, former governor of Virginia, and a senator who has led in several bi-partisan senate efforts. If my friend is looking for a place to participate enthusiastically in politics, here is a candidate worthy of his support.
Then there is Climate Change, perhaps the greatest threat to the habitability of Planet Earth. The Citizen’s Climate Lobby (CCL) is growing in its efforts to inform Americans on the human actions that are influencing climate, and the steps available to mitigate those causes. Or to adapt to what cannot be changed. The local chapter of CCL, led by Warrenton’s Judy Lamana, can use any enthusiastic volunteer available to work on both the educational and the political aspects of this immense problem.
This nation and our world will not be saved by partisan Republicans or Democrats, but by enthusiastic citizens, working together as Americans, subduing one problem after another. My skeptical friend, and every other American, should pitch in enthusiastically to engage and solve the many difficulties our nation faces. This campaign season is a good time to start.
UppervillePaying attention to sadness
Robin Wiliams’ suicide has shocked and shaken our nation. Over the last week we’ve watched video clips and listened to interviews with Robin Williams. He had been open and honest about his addictions and depression. In one particular interview with NPR, he agreed that his comedic style was indeed, “manic,” but stressed that he suffered from depression. “Oh, I’ve been sad,” he said, seriously. At other times, he provided us with a wildly humorous side of his behaviors, addictions and rehabilitation experiences.
All joking aside, Major Depressive Disorder is one of the most disabling illnesses facing individuals and families today. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, “In 2012, an estimated 16 million adults aged 18 or older in the U.S. had at least one major depressive episode in the past year. This represented 6.9 percent of all U.S. adults.” In the U.S., the suicide rate exceeds homicide and increases drastically with age. (CDC, 2012)
Still, hearing these sobering statistics, disorders of the brain continue to carry a negative stigma. A prevalent myth that one should be able to forge through depression, without medical or psychological support, lingers. Many fear medication or hesitate to seek psychotherapy because doing so indicates personal weakness. Someone might say, “I am so lucky. I have a loving family, a beautiful house, great kids….....(fill in the blank). Why am I so sad?”
When should you start to pay attention to sadness? As parents, what signs of depression should you look for in your child/teen? Keep in mind that depression, like most mental illnesses, is very personal. Your symptoms may be different from others. Major depression will affect aspects of life such as social, vocational or academic. There is almost always a loss of interest in doing activities that once brought pleasure. Other symptoms are: weight and/or sleep changes, irritability or increase in level of anger, feelings of hopelessness and/or helplessness. Motivation and physical energy is usually affected. Substance use, such as alcohol, may increase. For parents, pay attention to any change in your child’s behavior that you deem a concern.
If you have thoughts about suicide, it is time to seek help. If your child or teen has hurt him/herself or talks of suicide or for instance, “leaving this place,” it is time to seek help.
In Loudoun County we have resources available. If you are concerned about yourself or a loved one, please note the contact information below.
Loudoun County Mental Health (LCMH) Emergency Services (24 hrs, V/TTY) 703-777-0320.
LCMH: To seek an assessment or appointment. The Mental Health Department in Loudoun County works on a sliding scale and accepts Medicaid. 703-771-5100
LCMH can also help with referrals to other mental health professionals in the community.
Is it sadness or depression? If you’re not sure, seek help. Ask questions. Talk to friends. Read about depression. Make a phone call. There are people to help.
Patricia N. Atkins, LPC, Leesburg and Jill Farnsworth, LCSW, Sterling
Board of Directors, Friends of Loudoun Mental HealthLet’s not forget about Purcellville shooting
It is now almost three months since the terrible killing of a Purcellville teen by a police officer called to provide aid.
At the time it seemed to be either an awful lapse in judgment or training by the officer involved, or a big problem with the police department’s training, policies and procedures in dealing with mental episodes. An independent investigation was promised.
Plenty of time has elapsed to allow review of the situation and to assess the performance of the police officer involved and of the department. And, plenty of time to let the public know how the Purcellville Police Department is dealing with the aftermath of this terrible event.
We must not let this horrible event fade away without action. We need to know that the police now have the capability to respond to a troubled person other than by deadly force. We need to know that it is safe and wise to ask the police for aid when we face such a situation. And we need to know that the particular officer involved has been counseled, retrained or reassigned or perhaps given appropriate discipline, if that was warranted by the facts of the case.
Such an event cannot be allowed to pass away from our memories without impact. It was a horrible experience for the family and friends and the community - and the worst day in memory for the police.
We need to know what has been done to avoid any such thing to happen again - and to bring justice to all involved.
UnisonKindergarten warrants ranking, too
Your front page article, “The Secret’s Out,” highlighted Loudoun County’s rank as the No. 1 county in the nation.
As we approach the beginning of the school year I couldn’t escape this thought: although our neighbors in Jefferson, Fairfax, Montgomery and Frederick counties all rank below Loudoun, they all provide a full-day of kindergarten education for all students.
The research is quite supportive that all kindergarten children benefit from a full-day program.
Shouldn’t the No. 1 county in the land provide a first-class kindergarten experience on par with our surrounding (and competing) neighbors?
LeesburgLetter: Open borders threaten America’s viability, quality of life
I read Mary Costello Daniel’s letter on the border situation. As I have heard many times the words violence, rape and murder were used in her letter. When you read about children in this content any caring American would feel that these children need to be cared for by our Government. That these children should be accepted into American Society. Now lets consider some additional facts.
The world population is over 6 billion people. Many of these people live in poverty and are exposed to violence, murder and rape on a daily basis. How many of these people can we accept without completely destroying America’s safety net ? How many poor people can we accept without straining the services that we provide to American children who are exposed to poverty, murder and rape on a daily basis.
The countries of Central America have been in existence for hundreds of years. Many have inept governments that cannot even protect their citizens form violence and other atrocities. These governments in some cases are corrupt and do not have economies that can provide their citizens with a decent standard of living. American taxpayers have provided billions of dollars to these countries and now we must spend more taxpayer dollars to provide for their children.
Finally over the last few decades while most Americans have been looking at their cell phones our federal and state governments have put us in tremendous debt. The debt of the Federal Government alone is over 17 trillion. Every year America spends hundred of billions more then the government takes in in tax revenue.
My question to all those who want to take these children in is where will the money come from to initially take care of these children today. Where will the money come from to assimilate these children into American society? Where will the local dollars come from to educate these children, to teach them English, to train them to become productive members of society?
America cannot continue to be a viable country with open borders. Americans cannot continue to enjoy quality of life until we fix this immigration mess.
It is time for American to take a stand against the crisis on the border. Let’s treat these children as humanely as possible, but eventually most will need to be returned to the countries they came from. Once that occurs the politicians in DC need to get to work and fix the immigration mess.
LeesburgLetter: Sheriff Chapman “sets the record straight” COMMUNITY VIEW: Leesburg water rate hike punishes families COMMUNITY VIEW: Natural gas should lead energy plans A shameful position Oh say can you see ... An insult and a waste of taxpayer’s money Arcola School is vital to community COMMUNITY VIEW: Sterling rolls out the Barrel LoCo Joe spreads the ‘care” Medicaid hypocrisy?
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