OPINION: It’s a new decade, Shockers: Nihilism be damned

As we move into a new semester, year and decade, hope is more important than ever.

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To be perfectly honest,
I’m terrified. 

Who wouldn’t be? We as a species are looking down the barrel of irreversible ecological disaster, military unrest, and significant, though not unprecedented,
political corruption. 

Besides that, there’s the terrifying reality that on Jan.1, 2020 we embarked on a new decade. 

Decades are relatively insignificant measures of time. After all, what is a decade when compared to a millennium or an age?

But when I look backwards and engage in that ill-advised past time called reminiscence, the sheer enormity of what a decade can look like in the heart-breakingly finite span of a human life hits me like an existential train.  

Ten years ago, every conceivable aspect of my life was different. 

Emotional abuse, religious trauma, parental disowning and the death of loved ones have all made an appearance in the past decade. 

My first reaction is to be thankful. Thankful for my own resilience, and the support of those past and present without whom I would not have survived, much less thrived. I am also thankful for all the good times I’ve experienced over the past decade. 

But then I realize. Necessarily, the next decade contains, in equal measure to the last,  its own joy, success, loss, pain, fear and agonizing growth. 

What’s more, the world is considerably less stable than it was in 2010. Or so it seems to someone whose political awakening occurred in the meantime. 

This brings me back to my earlier admission of being positively terrified. 

I suspect that some of you are as well. 

As we start a new semester, it might feel shamefully trivial to measure our lives in academic increments when the lifespan of our planet can no longer be assumed to be practically infinite. The comforts of the middle class so often dangled ahead of us as we trudge through the university bureaucracy are meager incentive in a world where so many wonder whether having an S.U.V, not to mention children, is ethically justifiable in the midst of the climate crisis.  

War has reared its most recently sprouted head, and transparently fascist rhetoric is espoused by the country’s most senior mouthpieces. 

Who has time to worry about the aforementioned personal turmoil presented by the inevitable passage of time?

I have only one piece of advice today, and that is to not give up. The trials and tribulations of modernism are paradoxically not new. War, fascism, natural disaster; these harsh realities were the bread and butter of the 20th century, as they are sure to be of the 21st. If we look back, we can see the birth of another evil: nihilism. There were those who could not comprehend the evil and subsequently denied the good by claiming that nothing really matters. This phenomenon is not limited to any creed or group. I have no agenda beyond tenacious hope. All I will say is this: EVERYTHING matters. And now is not the time to stop working, for our own fulfillment, but also for the fulfillment of others – even those who too often find themselves beneath the bombs financed by our taxes, or who aren’t initiated into the increasingly elite university milieu. 

Perhaps that is our incentive, as terrifyingly ambitious as it may seem. Perhaps every step taken this semester and the next, should be in pursuit of a better world, where everyone and everything is treated as if it does matter. 

I have no strong allegiance to either optimism or pessimism, but I cling desperately to hope. 

Do the same, and let every moment count. 

May we survive the next decade with a little hope, and may we play a role in the survival of another.