Alas, I’m once again compelled to share my views about a difficult subject: how I “see” or “understand” evil’s existence, or role, in this beautiful world of ours. To me, and to all conscious folks, everything exists for a reason. There is no “mistake” because there is “evil.” Just as there is no “mistake” when there is “goodness.” Both goodness and evil exist, and anyone who doesn’t think so needs to re-think how this thing called “life” works. Once something has been recognized as “evil” though, this means that one should safeguard one’s own life … and act accordingly. In other words, if I wanted to not get killed unnecessarily, I would NOT go open-heartedly into a dangerous territory known to harbor dangerous beasts (or persons) who would just as soon kill me as spit on the ground, and would do so in a heartbeat if they were given the chance.
Such a tragedy has occurred recently, and has prompted me to write, once again, about the necessity of recognizing that so-called “bad things” are a manifestation of consciousness just as are so-called “good things.” Consciousness appears in all forms. To put good/bad labels on things, whether people, groups of people, human actions (or lack of), or acts of nature — is to limit our thinking of what consciousness encompasses. Consciousness is non-conforming, unlimited, undefinable, and to try to put labels on it such as “good” or “bad” only implies that someone has not yet opened their mind up to the greater possibilities of what the consciousness that is at the basis of life is all about.
The two people I’m honoring by writing about this subject today, were beautiful souls, no doubt. But their thinking was incomplete. They got themselves killed as a result, so sadly, of their limited view about how the world “is.” This post is about their short-lived lives, cut off too soon by not believing in evil’s existence.
Two carefree yet world-naive Americans wanted to travel the world on their bicycles. And successfully they did so, for over a year before July 29, 2018, the sad day when they were tragically killed, mowed down along with two others from their small cycling group as they traversed a lonely stretch of a dangerous barren rough road high in the Tajikistan mountains. Unafraid, completely without fear or precaution, Lauren and Jay’s lives were snuffed short simply because they refused to, or somehow couldn’t bring themselves to believe that such a thing as evil could possibly exist in this beautiful world of ours.
The newspaper report said a pickup truck had passed them on the isolated stretch of roadway, then quickly made a U-turn, and mercilessly plowed into the cycling group, killing the American couple, both 29 years old. Jay Austin and Lauren Geoghegan, the Americans, had been cycling for over a year already, determined to prove to themselves and others by their global trek, that goodness reigns in the human heart. The two others killed that miserable day a few weeks ago were Europeans, their deaths certainly not any less tragic than the loss of my fellow country-persons. The senseless death of these four individuals prompted me to think again about a solemn subject that needs to be talked about here on LordFlea, as much as I talk about other things, like uplifting ourselves to a more elevated, expansive consciousness, the many ways of practicing meditation, or how to tune into your breath, the bridge of a stilled mind that puts us in touch with our highest potential.
Jay and Lauren kept a blog and uploaded photos to Instagram, so I felt closer to them, knew them more than the two others who were killed, as a result of their Americans’ public sharing. Quickly after the heinous act that the Tajikistan government publicly announced “deplorable!” there appeared on the internet a video with five young men sitting on what looked like a picnic blanket, with an idyllic lake seen in the mountainous background. They spoke in Arabic, that they had pledged their loyalty to the Islamic State, which then promptly claimed responsibility for the young fellows’ cowardly act of violence. In the video the young men calmly, quietly proclaimed their hatred for any “nonbelievers” and their unwavering allegiance to Isis, the violent finger of radical Islam.
I’m not sure what action the government of Tajikistan took, but I believe at least several of these misguided young men were captured, and I heard, killed. But I’m not here to talk about them.
For me, it was not hard to imagine that this terrible act had occurred. It was not unthinkable that Jay and Lauren ended up dead, going where they chose to go. After more than a year of documenting their escape from their ten years of working in government offices in the Washington, D.C. area, the couple were determined to “enjoy their lives” beyond the walls of their 9 to 5 jobs, while they “still had youth and good health.” They miscalculated the danger of this particular country, deep in Islamic State territory. Could they have known that they’d pay with their lives to experience such freedom on the road, that they couldn’t by-pass potentially death-defying dangerous spots? I’d like to think they weren’t that naive. But … they are dead now, so we’ll never know what they really knew, or chose not to believe. Truth is hard for some people to accept.
Jay and Lauren, in their social media posts, wanted to share how loving, kind, compassionate and open every living person on Earth was, wherever they went. Perhaps they had to defy danger, as well, to prove humankind’s basic goodness to themselves, and to the world at large, evidenced by their frequent posts on their blog and on Instagram (@simplycycling). In none of their posts do they deny, or suggest that people are anything but good, wherever they went in their widely diverse travels through Europe, through Africa, through the eastern parts of the Middle East.
I remember feeling the same way as Lauren and Jay. Before I’d had my own lesson that proved that some people are definitely not what anyone could call “good.” For me, I found out in a much less threatening manner than a violent confrontation, that there are some people who harbor evil in their hearts.
Yes, there are countless good hearts in our worldwide blended family of humankind. But I know with all certainty that there are, indeed, enough people who have evil in theirs, and I mean even right here in my own American hometown, not just in Isis-dangerous Middle East — so that today I try to always remember to protect myself and others from the danger that evil presents to us all. I do not want to end up killed, or even emotionally damaged by any other person’s self-righteousness (another word, among many, for evil) if I can possibly avoid that.
Never in a million years would I ever have chosen to visit such a dangerous place as any Isis-leaning territory in the Middle East, and most definitely not on a vulnerable, hard-to-escape two-wheeled bike, Never! Doing such a thing is definitely taking a haphazard roulette turn on the game of suicidal chance. It’d be highly likely one would run into evil Itself in such an already well known danger spot on Earth as Isis-friendly lands.
Hell, most times I don’t even go swimming in the sea by myself because I know sharks (which I don’t by a long shot consider “evil” but a necessary “danger”) are less likely to attack when there are numbers of my species around. Yet … upon occasion I do swim by myself close to shore, but never close to a fishing pier, and never at “feeding time for sharks” which is closer to dusk or dawn than other hours of the day. And I never swim at night. Anyone who saw the opening sequence of Jaws knows why.
The things we run into in our life make us more, or less, aware of the dangers of evil. or not. Regarding sharks, I’m hyper aware of their threat, having once worked (as an artist, set person) on Jaws. Also because, as a Caribbean sailor, I once witnessed a deadly shark attack, the aftermath of one at least, when my boat happened to be anchored in St. Thomas, the U.S. Virgin Islands and two young teenage boys had just been killed by a shark attack earlier that morning, while they innocently dove for lobster.
Okay, sharks are dangerous: yet I still swim, cautiously, in the sea knowing this, don’t I? Some may call them evil, but I don’t. They are part of life: good and bad, benevolent and evil, black and white. This world is filled with paradoxes and opposites, to keep things in balance.
And yes, we all should know by know that places where Isis is known to thrive, even secretly, are more dangerous than other, Isis-free territories, right? So why would these two Americans, Lauren and Jay, choose to challenge the fact that evil might not show its nasty, ugly, deadly face to them on their trek through such known radical-Islam-leaning hinterlands as the Muslim country they were biking in? Were these two so eager to prove that the world is only filled with goodness, that they’d cycle in such known-to-be life-threatening (to westerners) spots of the globe, sure that their vulnerability would be “protected by — what? — their own invincible shield of goodness? Could they have been so naive to think their own obviously wide-opened, good hearts could cancel out any others’ ill-will, the danger of evil, wherever the two smiling bikers went, representing love and trust?
As they explained so eloquently and now so sadly, posthumously on their blog, they’d met only good hearted folks in the many other locales they’d traversed, Iceland, Europe, Africa, and all the many countries in-between before they hit that lonely patch of road in Tajikistan, where their journey so abruptly ended that had begun more than a year before.
I wish I had met Jay and Lauren before they decided to bike through such dangerous parts of the world. I wish I could have shared with them what I’m sharing with you here, today. How I, too, was once such an idealist as they, believing in only goodness that I, too, got myself repeatedly in deep trouble, way too dangerous for any sane person to have gotten herself into, for far too many times. Got myself landed in a third-world jail, in fact, in an unsafe, deadbeat, bad-rep slime-bucket country that I hope to never set foot in again. Almost got myself killed upon other occasions as well, before I learned to take precautions against the odds that I could run into evil face-to-face again. I learned to prepare against evil. And here I am … alive, a little older, and I hope, a whole lot wiser now.
Here’s what I would have said to Jay Austin and Lauren Geoghegan if I had met them before they set out on their dream trek.
Years ago I read the book written by M. Scott Peck: People of the Lie … an in-depth study that, upon reading, almost blew the top of my head right off my neck, so shocked was I! My reaction to Dr. Peck’s (a psychotherapist) sharing — how there IS, indeed, unabashedly, no-excuse evil that sometimes lurks mysteriously in some particular human souls. This reality, this truth I’d never accepted before contradicted everything I had thought up to that time, about the basic goodness within all human souls.
After reading People of the Lie, I immediately wrote a letter to author Peck, addressing it to his publisher. Weeks later I received a reply, from his secretary, telling me that “Dr. Peck was ill and wished to tell you that he received your letter.” No other response was offered for the forlorn plea I had written Peck, asking “How can you be so sure?” So naturally I was sorely disappointed I had no reply from the author himself. But I figured, like all who think deeply and care enough to write such a superb book as The Road Less Traveled is, Peck’s first book, Peck wanted me to sort this human dilemma out for myself.
The letter I had written to him, back in 1994 when the book first came out, contained this quandary of mine:
“How can you, Dr. Peck, the author of the majestic call to higher thinking that is so clearly stated in The Road Less Traveled, have written in your latest book, People of the Lie, an account of certain individuals who represent the complete opposite? I’m so confused! How can I believe that the family of humankind is equally eligible to attain these higher-consciousness possibilities you presented for us, and so many of us aspire to for our choice of how to experience our life — when the reality of evil people is such a real threat, as you say they are?”
In his People of the Lie, which followed The Road Less Travelled‘s wildly successful (10 years on all the major bestseller lists! a real phenomenon!), Scott detailed cases of people with whom he’d personally tried to help, as their therapist. I can’t remember any of his individual patient’s story in detail, other than to say that each person was, in his or her own fashion, an extraordinarily idiosyncratic version of an anti-social, and in some cases, degenerate lowlife, and that Scott himself ended up labeling them, each of his cases, with the designation of “evil that lurks in the human soul” as the sole reason for such destructive, repulsive behavior as theirs was. People of the Lie presents one example after another of unseemly, purely evil human behavior. Men and women, children even, all demonstrating that, unfortunately (especially for me, who was blindly idealist up to this moment) — that yes, evil is a common part of our everyday reality here on planet Earth.
Years went by, and I learned to watch myself better, managing to not get entangled in others’ webs of hatred, evil, or negative thinking, all thanks to having read Peck’s book.
So when I heard that these two young people had been so heartlessly run down (some reports stated that the Isis-rogue band of 5 young men in the truck might have stabbed or shot the bicyclists after first mowing them over) I remembered with cold shivers down my back, the shock I had upon first reading People of the Lie. Sadly, I knew that Jay and Lauren never believed that evil could really exist, otherwise I’m sure they wouldn’t have been where they were that cold hard day on Tajikistan earth.
There is, and always will be, elements of evil that we, as good and kind and compassionate people, have to always be on the lookout for. To protect ourselves from, and to help our brothers and sisters stay safe from harm’s way. In order to survive we have to recognize that evil, like poisonous snakes, industrial contamination, killer sharks and deadly storms, all have a place in the spectrum of our earthly experience here. Each cause presents an effect. Each evil forces us to take action, either ourselves personally, or as a global amily of the human species. But we must always remember to give evil a wide berth when we know it’s around, avoiding evil whenever, wherever we can. To have a quick getaway plan if we are forced to deal with it face-to-face.
For those of you who’d like to know more about M. Scott Peck’s exploration of human evil and his opinions on it, with his tips about watching for and guarding against being victimized by evil — here’s an Amazon link to the book that opened my eyes to the veracity of evil’s very existence.
To my mind, it is far better to know that evil exists so we can be prepared for whenever it may rear its nasty head, than to not know. Just as when we walk in a deep forest, we must always be on watch for poisonous plants, snakes, biting insects, dangerous cliffs, etc. that if we’re not watching out for, may be the cause of our own sorrow, or demise.
My friend, I wish you all a safe and pure-heart experience, wherever you are, today and everyday, but guard against evil, always. Remember — I love each and every one of you!
Your pal, LordFlea, aka teZa Lord
author of “We Are One and “In the I”