Naivety kills. In the case of Jay Austin and Lauren Geoghegan, an idealistic American couple who refused to acknowledge the existence of evil, their naivety left them stabbed to death by ISIS.
Their gruesome deaths in the Central Asian country of Tajikistan late last month occurred during a global cycling tour they had embarked on a year earlier.
“I’ve grown tired of spending the best hours of my day in front of a glowing rectangle, of coloring the best years of my life in swaths of grey and beige,” Austin wrote in a blog post after he and his partner quit their jobs in July of 2017 to go and explore the world together on their bikes.
“I’ve missed too many sunsets while my back was turned. Too many thunderstorms went unwatched, too many gentle breezes unnoticed.”
A dream come true turned into tragedy for a couple from #Washington, D.C. Jay #Austin and Lauren #Geoghegan quit their jobs and set out on a cycling adventure around the world. pic.twitter.com/wOWiTuDVJM
— Zackaria (@ZackAryaa020) August 8, 2018
In an update published about a year later in April of 2017, and after months of him and his partner reportedly cycling through Africa and Europe before turning into Central Asia, Austin added that he didn’t believe in the notion of evil anymore.
“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,” he wrote.
“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.”
That’s called idealism, and it’s cost many their lives, including Austin and Geoghegan.
Geoghegan’s parents confirmed in a statement to CBS News at the start of the month that their daughter and her partner were both killed while cycling with a group through Tajikistan.
“A car rammed into the group and then five men got out and attacked the tourists with knives. A Dutch and Swiss national were killed along with Geoghegan and Austin,” CBS reported.
The following grainy cellphone video reportedly recorded by a nearby driver allegedly shows the moment the thugs rammed their car into the couple:
“Tajik authorities blamed a domestic Islamic separatist group, but ISIS followed an initial claim of responsibility in print with a video showing the five purported attackers pledging allegiance to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi,” CBS added.
Their deaths are tragic, and they deserve no blame for the pain and suffering inflicted on both them and their loved ones. But these facts do not negate the risks inherent in naivety. Naivety does kill — and more than just people.
“Some conservatives have framed the tragedy as a cautionary tale about not just the perils of travel but also naivete in general,” notes the multi-partisan news outlet Pluralist. “In their telling, an overly generous understanding of human nature is behind much of today’s progressive movement, including calls to radically scale back immigration enforcement and policing and support for socialism.”
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