The online world is full of those who subscribe to the basic tenets of Nihilism, the idea that nothing matters and that nothing we do as human beings can matter.
I reject Nihilism and I think you should, too.
Yes, we all die. Yes, one day the Earth and our Solar System will go dark, and everything we know will be gone or at the very least different. But that doesn’t meant that nothing that we do matters.
Every choice we make matters, whether in small degree or large, and whether negative or positive.
This is something I teach to my (elementary school-aged) students every single day. If they choose, for example, to follow the rules of whatever game their friends are playing, then they’ll get to play again tomorrow and the next day and the next day. But if they go out there and break the rules and steal the ball and disrupt the game, the other kids probably won’t want to play with them again. So there is an micro-example of how our choices affect the world around us.
You might be thinking this is on such a small scale that it’s not helpful. Who cares if people want to play with you? Right?
Okay, what about adults then? Since I’ve already utilized school as an example, let’s stick with that theme. Let’s say a third grade teacher works with thirty kids in the school year. That’s thirty lives he or she has impacted in that year. What if two of those kids turn out to be doctors who saves the lives of the next President of the United States and your Science lessons helped spark some interest in becoming a doctor? Has anything that teacher did mattered now? What if the teacher works for thirty years and inspires the next Mark Twain to start writing? Mark Twain died over a hundred years ago and millions of people still read his work today. Think about the impact Twain has had on generations of people (including the author of this essay). So that teacher’s work has transcended his or her own lifetime and can have impact on many people for generations to come.
This is not a religious essay, but I covered a small example and a much larger example, so let’s go for the granddaddy of examples and discuss Jesus Christ. Here is a figure whose choices and teachings have transcended not just a lifetime, but whose teachings have affected billions of people over millennia and even helped lay the groundwork for Western Civilization.
Even living as a Nihilist or not is a choice. You need to make the choice to believe that the things you do and the choices that you make will make a difference on a larger scale or else you’re stuck thinking that nothing matters and life is all about chasing girls and making money. Hint: It’s not.
Our choices, whether large or small, will leave a legacy. It’s our job to try to leave one that has the greatest positive impact on the greatest number of people by making choices that allow us to transcend our own eighty years on this Earth.