Reasons for despair are always abundant. You won't have to hunt hard or far to find them. It's Election Year, so campaign ads are infesting our television screens, some promising miracles and quick fixes to complex problems, others savaging other candidates; both types of ads have an equally shaky relationship with the truth. Meanwhile, our economy continues to struggle. Joblessness is unacceptably high. Arabs and Israelis are still dedicated to destroying each other. Women in the Muslim world are still too often shrouded in identity-effacing robes. If that isn't enough to depress us, we can always talk about the weather.
But if we look a little harder, we can still find signs that, on occasion, Life and the World work just as they should. Here are five signs I've found that God is indeed in his Heaven, and on the job.
1. Lindsay Lohan is in jail.
I used to like Ms. Lohan. While her fellow Disney alumna Hillary Duff busied herself with portrayals of characters whose brains are made of fluff (Lizzie McGuire being the most famous example), Lindsay tackled more intelligent characters in movies like The Parent Trap, Freaky Friday, and A Prairie Home Companion. Since then, however, she's displayed a horrifying lack of judgment in both career (Georgia Rule?? I Know Who Killed Me??) and life. Her real-life misjudgments seem centered around the notion that because she's a sparkly celebrity, the universe owes her something and other people's feelings matter not. Granted, she's been cursed with a reprehensible mother who has taught her just about every wrong lesson a mother can teach a child, but it's nonetheless time to hold her accountable for steamrolling over other people. Locking her away is a blow to the eye for Entitlement. Now, if the public would just lose interest in those skanky Kardashian sisters, our popular culture would be substantially cleaner, purer, nobler...
2. Inception is No. 1 at the box office.
I haven't yet seen Christopher Nolan's paranormal thriller, so I can't speak to its quality first-hand. However, in a summer that kicked off with the mediocre Iron Man 2 and has slogged on through the likes of an unadventurous Robin Hood, a tacky Sex and the City 2, a much-better-when-it's-only-two-minutes-long MacGruber, and an A-Team that illuminates near-Shakespearean qualities in the original 1980s TV show, a thought-provoking drama that needs two viewings to be understood is a breath of fresh air. This summer just about every mainstream film is some sort of rehash; even the marvelous Toy Story 3 is a sequel. Kudos to the moviegoing public for showing some love for what we've been missing: a truly original film.
3. Georgia's fountains are working again.
I have a love-hate relationship with rain -- mostly hate. Rain would be all right if I never had to drive in it, run through a parking lot in it, or take my dog for a walk in it. But as much as I loathe rain, even I have to admit it has its uses. Georgia has recently suffered through a long drought. In such conditions, every drop of rain is needed for drinking and bathing; superfluous aesthetics must be ignored. During drought days, few sights are more disheartening than a dry, deserted fountain. Now, thanks to the rain's return, Georgia's fountains look as they should, gleaming in their rightful beauty. The whish of the water whispers to us, "No drought here." Long may the fountains flow.
4. Georgia's rigid sex offender laws are being relaxed.
Pedophiles and other such deviants are human garbage, but the laws put in place to deal with their crimes, like schools' zero-tolerance policies under which heroin and Tylenol are equally banned, are based on a one-size-fits-all principle that only works in retail, and very rarely then. Under these laws, a sixteen-year-old boy who sleeps with his fifteen-year-old girlfriend would be subject as an adult to restrictions that prevent him from living too close to a church or school, as if he were no different from a kidnapper or molester. Now our legislature has finally realized this may be a tad on the unjust side. About time.
5. I have nerds in my classes this quarter.
As a teacher, I am obligated to help all my students as they need it and treat each one with the respect that one human being owes another. But as a nerd, I can't help smiling inside when I encounter fellow nerds in my classes. By "nerds," of course, I mean people I can imagine running into when my husband and I make our yearly pilgrimages to the Georgia Renaissance Festival, DragonCon, and Anime Weekend Atlanta -- people who know what a Tardis is, who can talk about the differences between J.K. Rowling's and J.R.R. Tolkien's novels and their screen adaptations, or who have a favorite film made prior to 1970. I appreciate the assurance their presence gives me of the wideness of our nerdy tribe. They don't get extra consideration on essays and tests, but I like knowing they're there.