There has been a little bit of testiness out there in the world as of late, especially when it comes to what constitutes “reality”.
Call it the wishy-washy ramblings of young adults raised by hippies who came of age in the late 60’s, or perhaps it is the wealth of knowledge available on the internet, (a phenomenon we haven’t really explored enough)…in either case, reality seems to be slipping a bit.
In an effort to be constantly inundated with new, exciting information, television channels are devoting hours and hours of airtime to things like Ancient Aliens, Finding Bigfoot, and even looking for traces of a secretly-escaped Hitler in Argentina. This is “reality” now, and that wouldn’t have flown 30 years ago.
So when an American couple decided that, in their reality, “evil didn’t exist”, they had to prove it. To do so, they attempted to ride their bicycles in ISIS territory near the Afghanistan border.
Note that we said “attempted”.
Jay Austin and Lauren Geoghegan, 29, quit their jobs last year in order to make their trip. Austin was a vegan who worked for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development; Geoghegan, a vegetarian who worked in the Georgetown University admissions office.
Here’s where it gets weird:
While in Morocco, Austin wrote:
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. Badness exists, sure, but even that’s quite rare. By and large, humans are kind. Self-interested sometimes, myopic sometimes, but kind. Generous and wonderful and kind. No greater revelation has come from our journey than this.
And then, this:
Then, on July 29, 2018, as they were riding their bikes with two other cyclists in Tajikistan, five men exited their car and stabbed all the bicyclists to death.
The New York Times reported:
A grainy cellphone clip recorded by a driver shows what happened next: The men’s Daewoo sedan passes the cyclists and then makes a sharp U-turn. It doubles back, and aims directly for the bikers, ramming into them and lurching over their fallen forms. In all, four people were killed: Mr. Austin, Ms. Geoghegan and cyclists from Switzerland and the Netherlands. Two days later, the Islamic State released a video showing five men it identified as the attackers, sitting before the ISIS flag. They face the camera and make a vow: to kill “disbelievers.”
Evil most definitely exists, and it always will. How many more Americans will die before we stop trying to hijack the narrative in such dangerous ways?