Our strength as a species lies in our ability to cooperate with one another, kind of the ultimate herd. Through shared memories, perceptions, and imaginings, we are able to accomplish an unprecedented level of control over our environment.
Evolution has endowed me with a strong will to survive and procreate (my sense of self, my ego). Our ability to communicate with one another has provided me with a tool to cooperate, allowing me to be part of a bigger whole, a diminishing slice of a growing pie (social good, the survival and success of my community beyond my lifetime).
Implicit in my definition of "make the world a better place" is the statement's point of view, which is not from the point of view of the individual, but that of the community. With this perspective there may be reasons for me to sacrifice my own life, and the future of my gene pattern, by dying before I've had a chance to have children or had an opportunity to pass on my beliefs.
There are many conflicts between my ego and my commitment to make the world a better place when it comes to decisions I make. For example:
- Resources I expend on my children versus other people's children;
- How much I may want to spend to save my own (older) life versus contributing to the betterment of other (younger) people's lives;
- Consuming goods that I enjoy when I know it may have a negative effect on future generations.
These decisions are the proper domains of laws, justice, and the government, protectors and keepers of the balance between the uneven forces of the individual versus the community.