Some positive news from Atlanta

I went to Atlanta this weekend, and if you perused the Georgia headlines, you would have seen this:

A Gainesville, Ga., man was charged with molesting an eleven-year-old girl. 

A man was shot outside of a Krispy Kreme.

A middle school student brought a gun to school and showed it to classmates. 

A man fired a shot into the air after a disagreement with his Uber driver. 

You see these headlines daily. You see them everywhere, in Georgia and California and Europe and Alabama and Canada and everywhere else. It’s maddening. But this isn’t one of those posts. This isn’t a cry for gun control or stiffer penalties for criminals. No, this is a post about, dare I say, some positive things I saw in Georgia this weekend, and they all happened Saturday.

As a group of four of us walked around downtown Saturday afternoon, we encountered a woman who was shouting at no one in particular in a courtyard. I grew concerned as we passed her. As it turns out, she was shouting about despite her circumstances, whatever they are, no one will take her peace and joy in life, no matter what. 

We stopped off for some caffeine at a Burger King, and then proceeded toward Underground Atlanta, which has closed its stores for now to renovate and construct new mixed-use developments. We approached a crosswalk, where I heard a man yelling around the corner. Imagine you’re in downtown Atlanta and you hear commotion nearby. What is your first thought?

What we saw was surprising and refreshing. A group of about ten men had gathered on that corner, and one of them was doing all the talking. Men held tattered Bibles and nodded their heads as the one man preached.  

We took an Uber that night, a day after one man fired a shot into the air after a dispute with his driver. I sat up front with our driver, who we read in a review was a good conversationalist. He was silent, and I couldn’t stand it. I asked him if he liked his job, and he said that after just a few months, he really enjoys it. I learned that he lived in Texas for 12 years, Tampa Bay for 10, and has been in Atlanta for five.

He had worked in the grocery business, and he was never off work.

“It was too much,” he said.

With Uber, he picks the times he likes to work. He’s his own boss. He typically works from 4 p.m. or 5 p.m. until after midnight, so that he can get his two boys ready for school in the mornings and pick them up in the afternoons. 

It was an expensive ride for us, considering it was on a Saturday in downtown Atlanta, but I’m glad he was our driver. 

We attended a concert that night, and the main act was not my kind of music. It rattled the walls and shook the blood in my veins. My brother’s ears were ringing two days later. I couldn’t understand almost all the lyrics. But the group’s most popular song ended with these lyrics:

“Hope for the hopeless, a light in the darkness,
Hope for the hopeless, a light in the dark,
We stand for the faithless and the broken,
Hope for the hopeless, a light in the dark.”