This story is old, but with where we are today in society, the concept is worth remembering.
Remember when a young American couple working in Washington, both graduates of Georgetown University, exchanged their office jobs for a life-ending adventure cycling around the world?
Grown tired of the meetings and teleconferences, of the time sheets and password change, the two sought adventure. The mundane realities of reality had become too much to bear.
“There’s magic out there, in this great big beautiful world,” wrote Jay Austin, who has his own tiny house lovingly named “the matchbox”, who lives a minimalist lifestyle, eats vegetarian, and frequently takes “off the beaten path” vacations from his job where he opted for more paid-leave instead of a higher salary.
Lauren Geoghegan’s friends shared with news sources that their friend changed when she met Austin and that his beliefs, hobby’s, and lifestyle choices became her own.
Geoghegan’s friend Amanda Kerrigan told the Times she was worried about her friend when she found out about the trip: “I said, This is not the Lauren I know,” Kerrigan told the paper. “Jay changed the trajectory of Lauren’s life.”
To their credit, the couple did experience very much magic and kindness in their travels, which they documented on their blog “Simply Cycling”.
Strangers took them into their homes as guests, shared food, music, culture, and gave them rides at times it felt like they could not go on.
But, in faithful balance, they also experienced illness, freezing hail, flat tires, wild animals… And one day in early April, 2018, Austin was purposely run over (for the first time), very slowly, by a man driving a truck in Spain who looked him right in the eyes while he did it.
It almost seemed like this unsettling event was to foreshadow and almost warn of the couple’s violent and tragic death that was to come, as Austin survived to detail the encounter in entry #22 of the blog.
“You watch the news and you read the papers and you’re led to believe that the world is a big, scary place. People, the narrative goes, are not to be trusted. People are bad. People are evil. People are axe murderers and monsters and worse.
I don’t buy it. Evil is a make-believe concept we’ve invented to deal with the complexities of fellow humans holding values and beliefs and perspectives different than our own—it’s easier to dismiss an opinion as abhorrent than strive to understand it.”
Boy, was he wrong.
On Day #369 of their journey, July 29, Austin and Geoghegan were killed in Tajikistan; a predominantly Muslim country in Central Asia bordering Afghanistan in what CBS News said was an ISIS-inspired attack.
Captured in a cell phone video the couple was cycling through the country with a group of other tourists when a carload of men whom had pledged their allegiance to the Islamic State passed by the cyclists and sharply turned the car around in a U-turn, doubling back and aiming straight for the cyclists, knocking down their limp bodies and crushing them with the vehicle.
Four people were killed: Mr. Austin, Ms. Geoghegan and cyclists from Switzerland and the Netherlands.
Days following, the Islamic State released a taunting video showing the 5 men identified as the attackers pledging their allegiance and vowing to kill “disbelievers” while sitting before the ISIS flag.
This is a difficult piece to close out because it’s never a good look to chastise dead people for their arrogance… But there is a teachable moment here.
This attack displays the polar-opposite reality of the idealistic world view held by Austin and Geoghegan, proving to all of us that balance is a constant.
With good, comes evil; the two co-exist.
And it would seem there is a large group of people in society who reject the concept of “good and evil”, choosing instead to only acknowledge “good”.
And if something or someone makes them feel uncomfortable or challenges their world view, they shut down and pretend that “something or someone” does not exist.
This is a dangerous and delusional way of thinking.
And people are getting themselves and others killed.
This is a valuable lesson, and here’s why.
We all want to see the beauty in the world. We want to believe that people are inherently good. We love positive news stories and tales of different cultures sorting out their differences. It makes us happy.
But we can’t forget that true evil lives not just in the far corners of the world, but in our neighborhoods, in the people we pass on the street every day, much closer than many realize.
Law enforcement understands this concept better than anyone, because they deal with it every single day.
We would love to see world peace and everyone getting along, but it’s never going to be that way. There are evil people… but there are good people who stand up and fight against it.
You never underestimate what a person or group of people are capable of, especially in desperate times, and you never allow yourself to become so arrogant that God chooses to humble you and teach others in a way that shakes the ground.