Honorable mention — Jonathan Obeda: Now

Jonathan Obeda

By Jonathan Obeda

One word is lost in the rush of life, one word escapes the minds of those preoccupied with the future, a concept taken for granted in our post-industrialized world, “now” is as foreign a concept to some as epistemics is to the majority of Americans. As Emily Dickinson so eloquently put it, “Forever is composed of nows.” We as a society have lost sight of this ideology, you cannot expect to look toward the future without existing in the moment. Life isn’t a contest, life isn’t a race, and there is no prize at the end of the journey. What really matters in the dark and indifferent cosmic void our speck of rock inhabits are the journeys, the people, the knowledge, and, most importantly, the moments we forge in our fleeting lives. For that reason, I wholeheartedly reject the notion of an afterlife and cry “murder” to those who indoctrinate others into believing its farce. We do not exist but of our own volition and shall not and ought not be deprived of our glorious, albeit short, lives.

But why, you may ask, would you call the lie of an afterlife murder for those believers? Nihilism provides us with a simple answer for this query — there is no afterlife. To tell women, children and vulnerable individuals that the here and now isn’t important, isn’t the end goal, isn’t the reason for existence, is misleading and coercive, ultimately leading believers down a path where their heads are in the sky and not grounded in the humility of insignificance. If we tell everyone that eternal happiness is waiting for them at the end of the journey, at what point do you stop and think about what’s going on right now? Eternity in paradise is a hard standard to beat and, by extension, life pales in comparison. We ought not unduly tarnish the earthly wonders of our planet. The human experience is the best experience we have available and to tell

individuals that it isn’t the case robs them of any chance at true happiness in this lifetime. Under this lens of analysis, life becomes so much worse than it truly is. Everything from rags to riches becomes a meaningless aspiration when, in the end, eternal paradise beyond worldly description is promised.

While Yip Harburg takes a light-hearted approach to criticism of the hereafter, I do not mince words when saying that its promises are vile and vitriolic to the point of poisoning the minds and lives of those devout believers. Humanity is not so fortunate enough to have a divine protector, we toil and wile through the grit and realism of own lives forged through our own choices. We laugh, we cry, we die and in the end, we are all just food for worms, part of an endless indifferent cosmic cycle of which we cannot hope to perceive or understand. Live in the here and now for that it is the only truth that is noble.

Jonathan, 18, attended the Los Angeles Center for Enriched Studies. He finished high school ranked sixth in California for parliamentary debate. He is seeking a degree in philosophy at the University of California-Riverside.