The Betrayal and the Optimistic Nihilism

I was the captain of our school robotics team. It was incredibly rewarding and engaging but extremely taxing as well. Naturally, I always wanted to gain credit from my teammates. I wanted myself to be acknowledged as the heart of the team, someone people couldn’t work without. And I’m indeed the core. I did eighty percent of the work, basically everything except driving. As a result, I was honored by almost everyone but my driver, John, who was doing something “non-replaceable,” as I couldn’t find a better one.

After the VEX Worlds, an event indicating the end of the season in theory, Tim managed to get a qualification for China Adolescent Robotics Competition(CARC) in some “unofficial ways.” Actually, it is more important than Worlds, which isn’t eligible for credits in Chinese college admission. They only admit competition organized by Chinese bureaus. I didn’t really care, though. I wasn’t doing robotics for credits – I was just tricking my teachers into thinking I was, so that they won’t argue against me too hard. But still, I was still happy to have such a chance to prove myself again – more is always better than less, you know.

However, things did not go in the way they’re supposed to be. Only four members per team were allowed in CARC, but we had five members. I didn’t have a chance to kick someone out, because the name list was handled by Tim, the one who corrupted officials for the qualification in the first place. I was so confident that I was in that I didn’t even bother asking. A few days later, Mrs. Chen, our lab counselor, came to me, telling me that I’ve been kicked out by Tim.

“What?” I can’t believe what I just heard.

“Yeah… It’s unfair enough, but I couldn’t do anything. Tim got the qualification.” Shrugged Mrs. Chen.

“Who’s in except Tim?” I questioned.

“Your driver John, and two guys from another team.”

Feeling betrayed, I suddenly realized the deal between John and Tim. The driver ensures that Tim stays on the field during the entire VEX Worlds, and Tim, in return, takes the driver into CARC. For the other two guys… They’re not even on my team. I could only assume they had similar deals with Tim.

So I ran to Tim angrily. “How can you do that? I constructed the robot, and I wrote the entire program. I won’t allow you to use them.”

“You see, the robot was constructed with components owned by the school, so it’s school property. Your documents and programs were edited on a school computer using the electricity of the school, so it’s also school property. As a student, I can, of course, use whatever I want when I’m in need.” He smirked.

“How do you compete against other teams without me? Who’s gonna adjust the parameters? Who’s gonna repair the system if it breaks down?” I exclaimed.

“Good question. My father has hired an engineer. He will sort it out. By the way, I wrote your name on it as a coach, so you still have to help me.”

“No way.” I was speechless. “Writing my name on it doesn’t make me responsible automatically. Coaches get paid to do their job. You paid your engineer, didn’t you? ”

“It’s all about honor!”

“You think it’s an honor to help you? It only makes myself look stupid. I went to the Worlds because it’s interesting, but I found this corrupt system not interesting at all! I couldn’t even get credit for college admission, can I? Then, dear Tim, please tell me, why I have to help you the little git?”

For the rest of the school term, I didn’t talk to Tim even once. I felt depressed: after all those adventures, I didn’t win respect and loyalty that I deserved. They didn’t win the champion at the end, which makes me feel a little bit better. However, I know that they don’t need to get a championship to win credit in college admission. Basically, they’ll get credit as long as they’re in. They maximized their interest in an utilitarianism way.


I used to hate him so much, but now I don’t. It’s all about interests, right? It was so easy to let Tim ruin my days as though I really wanted to go to CARC. I was probably never going to see him again. And now I don’t need credits from China education bureau anymore because I’ve bravely jumped out of this corrupt system. I’m writing about this sad story here for only one reason: to let you know that with a little bit of optimistic nihilism—the kind described in the video—the betrayal story doesn’t have to be the experience to end my ecstasy of winning the Worlds. SImilarily, my friend in middle school doesn’t have to end his own life, and two World Wars don’t have to be the tragedy of humanity. This video explains that while we have a limited time on Earth and that the Earth is not made specifically for us, we are liberated by our ability to find unity with the universe as opposed to our humanistic tendency to feel that life revolves around us.

If the universe ends in heat death, every humiliation you suffer in your life will be forgotten. Every mistake you made will not matter in the end. Every bad thing you did will be voided. If our life is all we get to experience, then it’s the only thing that matters. If the universe has no principles, the only principles relevant are the ones we decide on. If the universe has no purpose, then we get to dictate what its purpose is.

By and large,  we don’t need to live our life hating and concerning. We have a limited time on Earth, and we don’t even know if our lives mean anything in the grand scheme of things. So why waste our time scorning and worrying? There’re so many things to do apart from that. I want to build my own robot for fun, so I just do it. If you want to do something in your life, you just do it. What really matters is that you live a happy life. Everything above that would be bonus points. We get to explore the galaxy; we get to investigate the secrets of life; we get to prospect for the ultimate rules of the universe. Therefore, when someday we were doomed to extinct, which is likely to happen at some point, we can proudly say to ourselves: we are dying for curiosity instead of hatred.

Do the things that make you feel good. You get to decide whatever this means for you.

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