They were young, healthy and sick of their 8 to 5 jobs. So, Jay Austin and Lauren Geoghegan, quit their jobs in Washington, D.C.

The two 29-year-olds decided they had wasted too much of lives looking at computer screens, writing memos and attending meetings. They wanted to see the world and chose to see it by biking. They were not afraid because they believed that the stories concerning evil in world were grossly over exaggerated and that people are inherently good and kind.

And then they were murdered by total strangers.

The young couple shipped their bikes to Africa to begin their grand adventure. Along the journey, they journaled about the breathtaking scenery and the many times that people treated them with kindness.

They had biked 369 days when their trip took a fatal turn on a route near the Afghan border where a car passed them, flipped a U turn and intentionally ran into them (and two others riding with them at the time). After ramming into the bicyclists, the assailants, alleged ISIS terrorists, stabbed them to death.

Earlier on their journey, 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 ax 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.”

This story makes my guts roil.

Their murder is not an anomaly. This is not simply one tragic story and that the actions of evil have never happened before and will never happen again in our life time. Though the details are different, painted in varying degrees of violence, this is the story of millions. Yes, millions.

Throughout the history of mankind, evil has walked the face of the planet. Evil murdered up to 6 million men, women and children in a systematic plan to eliminate an entire nation. The Holocaust is not a made up fairy tale of another time.

And then there are the Killing Fields of Cambodia, the campaign of ethnic cleansing in Bosnia and the disturbingly documented crusade of violence in Rwanda.

Undoubtedly, we should be a bit suspicious of any “narrative” presented by the media. But do we deny that we have “dark side” moments? That sometimes we have thoughts that are evil? Have you ever hated someone? Wanted someone to get what they deserved? Have you ever been jealous of someone’s job or their home or their new car? Have you ever had an affair, defamed someone’s character, “stretched” the truth?

Evil is not make-believe. Evil is real. And it begins in the heart. Tragically, unchecked and void of a gracious God, evil will destroy.

Larry and Linda Kloster sponsor this column.


Community News Editor

Sally Ann Shurmur arrived at the Star-Tribune to cover sports two weeks after graduating from the University of Wyoming and now serves as community news editor. She was raised in Laramie and is a passionate fan of Cowboys football, food and family.

Load comments