“The United States is the greatest country on Earth.”

How often do we hear this statement? I am betting that you hear people boast about the state of our nation in comparison to others weekly, if not daily.

But when was the last time that you were satisfied with the country that we call home? I remember growing up, and everyone seemed happy. Granted, I wasn’t politically aware, but I played with kids of different nationalities and different races, and no one turned their heads.

War wasn’t as common, terrorist attacks were few and far between, and there seemed to have been a real sense of pride instilled in every one of us to grow up as free and wild as we did. We had the United States to thank for that.

Not to say that other countries that enjoy democracy were much different, but learning about American exceptionalism really made me believe that no matter what we did, we would still be “better.”

Relations between fellow Americans right now, especially in between different races are absolutely abysmal. I have never in my life seen such blatant racism from all kinds of people casually posted on Facebook.

Instead of banding together as brothers and sisters of the human race, we seem to have set ourselves back a good 60 years, and it is alarming and pitiful.

We allow unjustified hate to fill us, and we find ourselves taking sides. “Black lives matter,” or “blue lives matter.” How about let’s have an open and honest conversation, but no one can have their blinders on.

We need to open up our hearts and ears, and become human again. Human lives matter. We cannot allow hate to change us.

We sit idle as terrorists attack us on our homeland and from afar. Yes, we might have some hasty yet powerful words to put on Facebook, but how many of us are contacting our representatives and congressional members urging them to set a plan in motion, or do we only call those people when we want to take our neighbors’ rights away from them, like the ownership of firearms?

It seems like once a month, an attack somewhere will happen, and we all change our Facebook profile pictures to a picture of that flag, and a week later we take it down just to put a different one up several weeks afterward.

Nothing has really been done. Perhaps a drone strike here or there, but stern words by a man who can’t even say “Islamic extremists” are laughable.

America is great. We never once were not great, but we should be holding ourselves to a higher standard.

Go outside, hug your neighbor, chat with someone of a different race or socioeconomic class, call your representatives and lay into them about education, terrorism, taxes, whatever.

We have already set ourselves up for a tumultuous next four years whether Hillary or Trump wins, so it’s going to be up to us, the American people, to remind “Big Brother” they actually work for us and that they are going to hear us out.

This world is so cruel, and our country is the beating heart of the world. We can’t fill the world’s heart with junk, be it domestic or foreign junk, because if we fail, the world fails.

Amanda Long is a freelance writer for The Gazette-Virginian.