I have idolized America my entire life. We let freedom ring from sea to shining sea and we take home the most medals from the Olympics every other year. What is there not to love?

America is the Cinderella story everyone adores. We were oppressed English folk who wanted a chance to be free. We escaped to a new land where we were soon colonized by the very country we escaped from. We fought ol’ Union Jack and won. We became the strongest nation in the world. We are back-to-back champions of the world wars. We bleed red, white, and blue. We are the United States of America.

Are you tearing up yet? Is your heart racing like mine is? (I say that sincerely. I love America more than most folks).

I grew up with American pride. I have always been excited to vote and partake in jury duty because we live in a country that belongs to the people and listens to the people. We can actively participate in government. We have the freedom to share our opinions and to criticize our government. How many places share that liberty?

America is a great place.

Or is it?

My whole life, I viewed America through gold lenses. Perhaps like something Elton John would wear. I saw the country in the best light, giving America all benefit of the doubt.

I will mention here that my childhood was marked by 9/11–a terrorist attack that would change the country and the world. I was told American values were being attacked and that American values were superior to all others. We had to fight for the best country in the world.

I don’t hold these exact views anymore. My golden glasses were ripped off.

The United States is a wonderful country, I don’t deny that, but there are deep-rooted systemic issues that I am unable to fully comprehend. We may be at war with terrorism, but we are much more at war with racism, drugs, and other issues destroying the people of this country. Should a warrior fight a questionable war while sick and broken on the inside?

The current state of the country is comparable to the era of the Vietnam war. During the Vietnam war, the U.S. was sending out men on a suicide missions while issues of race rose to the surface and were causes actually pertaining to the wellbeing of American citizens.

Our current issues are mere echoes of the past. Perhaps we are repeating the past because the issues were never dealt with properly in the first place. What we have now is the second act of citizens reaching a boiling point because they have been treated unjustly and have been silenced. What we have now is a country with a vulnerable constituency because those in charge of their health are endangering them the most. Where are the changes?

I see a cycle of issues that has not been properly addressed. I am justifiably angered at issues I have had to deal very little with because I know these problems affect my brothers and sisters and friends and peers and neighbors and coworkers and teachers and professors and customers who have walked through my store and campers I have counseled and the folks in the cars next to me during traffic. If they are wronged, who am I to remain silent when my voice will be heard? If they are wronged, who am I to continue to let them suffer? Who am I to say I value freedom if I don’t work to achieve equal rights for all?

America is not a perfect place. We divert ourselves from serious issues to rather petty ones. We write blogs about change, but do not pursue change itself. But we do have the power to change this culture. I am not enamored with what I once thought America was, instead, I have a renewed passion for the potential to achieve change through the means given to us in the Constitution. We can speak and our voices have the power to change and heal this country from the inside out.

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