We should be a generation of nihilists. We should believe in chaos and anarchy, we should want to destroy, we should have faith in nothing and nobody. We were promised the world as children, given trophies whether we won or lost, told that the future was a great and glorious thing.
And then we arrived to find our inheritance in ruins. There’s no money, no jobs, and now you can bury your time in endless streams of shallow television and lose your sense of self with easily prescribed pills.
Why, then, is it that we don’t burn it all to the ground? Why do you talk to that college graduate serving you coffee and find that he still believes he’s going to make it. He’s got big dreams, and all of this is going to serve him ultimately in the pursuit of that.
Somehow, we became a generation of existentialists. Somehow, we believe we can infuse meaning into our suffering. Maybe out of pure necessity. Maybe we need to believe that this serves some goal.
Dostoyevski said, “Suffering is the origin of consciousness.”
Sartre said, “Life begins on the other side of despair.”
Camus said, “There is not love of life without despair about life.”
As long as this darkness provides some kind of fuel for Dostoyevski’s “consciousness,” Sartre’s “other side,” and Camus’ “love of life” then we can see its value. We can maintain the momentum to carry on. We can find the strength to make ourselves look good and go out at night and enjoy being young. We can embrace our depression, our suffering, our despair, as vital components in our pursuit of The Fully Lived Life.
We really should all be nihilists, it’s the logical conclusion to our position. But our childhoods filled with people telling us, “You can be astronauts, doctors, Presidents,” it’s left us with a hard-to-depart-with optimism, an undying hold on the American Dream hiding being cynical comments, a love of hope lurking beneath “Fuck You” T-shirts.
Underneath it all, we still want what was promised us; and what’s more, we still believe we’re going to get it.