Big picture, nihilism is a workable (and even comforting) framework for thinking people. We know how we got here (evolution) and we kinda know where we’re going (more evolution). We know our place in the universe–insignificance. All the things that confuse us and complicate us don’t actually matter.
Take children, for instance. We say that the children are our future, and we want them to have better lives than we did. But that’s just a biological imperative–we’re hardwired to believe that’s important. But it really isn’t. One way or another, the human race will end.
Our children will just have children who will have children, and so on and so on. If they’re not all wiped out in some catastrophe, then, at some point, they’ll evolve into something that’s not even human anymore.
Sure, we might colonize the stars, but that’s just moving the goalposts. And even the universe has a finite lifespan. When black holes dominate the universe and every living thing has been gone for a few quintillion years, what was it all for? The black holes won’t care that we were ever here.
It won’t matter that Jane didn’t get the promotion or that John wrecked his brand new car. It won’t matter that some guy got away with a murder or that some other guy was executed for a murder he didn’t commit.
Our own relatively recent history backs this up. It doesn’t matter to us–we literally do not care–that some unnamed ancient Egyptian was strangled for his religious beliefs or that some unknown Pict woman was raped a thousand years ago. Otzi’s a curiosity, not a tragedy. In a thousand years–probably far less–you’ll be just as forgotten, your personal story just as unimportant.
So don’t sweat the small stuff. And it’s all small stuff. Even nuclear wars and the heat death of the universe.
Small picture, though, suffering hurts. In the here and now, anything that reduces net suffering is good, and anything that increases it is bad. Which brings back all of the confusions and complications. Is a murderer’s suffering a good thing? Is our free will more important than a reduction in suffering?