Nihilism…not necessarily a bad thing
Nihilism is defined as “the rejection of all religious and moral principles, often in the belief that life is meaningless.” Is this my view of the world? Yes it is. Is it necessarily a bad way to think? Not at all.
To consider yourself a nihilist, you must accept both parts of the above definition. The first point is “the rejection of all religious and moral principles”. This can be broken down into 2 sub-bullets. The rejection of all religions and the rejection of all moral principles. As an atheist, I fulfill the first bullet point. I reject all religions and dogmatic beliefs. This one was easy for me. The second bullet made me think. Do I believe that having moral principles are a bad thing. No. Should everyone have a baseline moral guide? Of course. With that said, how can I say that I am a nihilist?
Morals are very subjective. What one person can say is morally justifiable may not be justifiable to others. There are quite a few people that think that contraception is morally wrong. Growing up as a Catholic, my family and teachers tried to indoctrinate me into this way of thinking. I never could understand it. A persons morality should come from their own research and how they feel about a certain topic. No one should base how they feel about a certain topic based on societal or cultural pressure. How I cope with this is living a life based on consequential morality. This kind of mimics Christianity’s “ Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. I do not want to cause others physical or emotional pain. This paired with logic, is how I live my day to day life.
The portion of nihilism that throws most people is the belief that life is meaningless. Meaningless? How does this not depress you? Just because life is meaningless, does not mean that we should not try to live the best life we can. It may not mean that going to dinner with your kids has an effect on the world, but it means the world to me. Should you believe that life has meaning, look at it from an astrophysical stand point. There are a 500 billion galaxies in the observable universe. Within our own galaxy, there are 17 billion earth sized planets. How can actions from someone as “meaningful” as Mother Teresa or Gandhi have meaning on a macro level? The key is to just be happy. As one of my former colleague used to say, “don’t petty the sweaty” (yes she was learning English and meant don’t sweat the petty things, but it still stands).
Nihilists are able to live happy and fulfilling lives. We just have to realize that happiness comes from a very microscopic level and know that we do have any effect outside our social circle. People such as Buddha, Andy Warhol, and King Solomon were nihilists and look what they were able to accomplish.