Roe Conn hit the nail on the head when he said Monday the events of this week are the very best and worst that America has to offer.
He was referring specifically to the flawless Mars landing within the same 24 hours as the horrific Sikh temple shooting outside Milwaukee.
When we expand that lens a little wider, we also see the incredible accomplishments happening now in London. At age 16, Gabby Douglas became the first African-American gymnast to earn all-around gold. Michael Phelps is now the most decorated Olympian of all time. Kayla Harrison overcame horrific sexual abuses by her childhood coach to be the first American to earn gold in judo.
Then, as we hold our breath, we remember the June 20 tragedy in the Aurora, CO, movie theatre. Not long after, Missy Franklin, also from Aurora, earns four golds in swimming.
Also within the last six weeks, we have tried Jerry Sandusky and are . Tragedies abound.
It seems that in order to have the sweet taste of glory, we must also stomach the bitterness of tragedy.
"Freedom consists not in doing what we like, but in having the right to do what we ought," said the late Pope John Paul II.
As Americans, we have a society of instant gratification. We pay a high premium for this. We have the right to bear arms. We should not be able to build a personal arsenal and shoot up a movie theatre or booby trap an apartment as James Holmes' allegedly did.
We have the right to free speech. Yet we should not be able to proulgate white supremacist hatred that elevates to killing prayerful people, as suspected gunman Wade Michael Page may have done.
Our values begin in our homes. Of course, we cannot account for mental illnesses that contribute to tragedies. Yet, it is time for us, as parents, to limit our children's exposure—not expand it. Assailants don't suddenly turn bad. It's like wearing a hole in the rug by walking across it a little every day. It happens over time.
We become desensitized. Just because we have Call of Duty or Mortal Kombat in every store, doesn't mean it's good for our kids. Just because the drive-thru is handy doesn't mean we should feed our kids Big Macs every day.
It is the little day-to-day happenings that have a big impact on our children's values. For example, when we badmouth other people or make racist jokes, our children learn from us. It comes with every time we forward a hateful email guised as a joke. That is where it starts.
Violence begets violence. Hatred begets hatred.
Yes, as Americans, we have the right to do all of these things. If we want our children to be more like the Gabby Douglases, Melissa Franklins, Michael Phelpses and Kayla Harrisons, the next time hateful jokes hit our inboxes or pop up on Facebook, we need to remember one thing:
We also have the right to delete.