I've often been told that there is no possible perfect world. I'll buy that. But I'm also often told that there is no "best" world. That there cannot really be an ideal. That the world is as it is and could not be otherwise, or would be the same over all even if minor things were slightly different.
I keep finding that I idsagree with this idea. I have a fairly firm belief, so firm I get worried that it's faith, that the world could realistically be better. I don't believe in fate or destiny or purpose, so I don't believe in a grand scheme or a creator's plan. As such, I keep thinking that things could be better, and that a real utopia could be possible. How good that utopia could actually be is beyond me, but I feel like things are, at their core, good and reasonable, and with some effort, could be forced in that direction permenantly, or at least for extended periods.
Like I said, I do fear that it's faith. I don't want this assumption to be without reason, because if it is that makes it harder to have faith in it.
Luckily for my sense of self esteem, I've stumbled accross a bit of evidence to explain my belief. There are behaviors that are considered "good things" that we do. "Sacrifice", "altruism", "selflessness", and "charity" are words that we use to describe "good things". There are two kinds of "good things": the kind which provide benefits to the world, no matter who does them and for what reasons, and the kind that may or may not benefit many people, or any for that matter, but are done with the intent of being good or helpful. It's that latter that we get praise for. In fact, we sometimes look down on praise given to a deed which was done without the intention to be good.
The category of things we praise is special because we almost feel it necessary to have it be something the person performing the behavior doesn't want to do. If you do something anybody would do, something people want to do, even if it benefits others, it generally doesn't warrant special praise for the person doing it. One would probably not be praised for entering into a symbiotic relationship with others. Their fortune would be celebrated, but I don't think we would congradulate the person on their decision. It would be viewed as a good, positive thing, but would not be an act of "goodness".
Those who say no act is selfless I think could be true, but I don't believe they are. Sacrifice for others is the intentional act of doing something "good". Whatever our cultural concept of "good" is. Now, it's true that different concepts of "good" can step on each other's feet, even cause genocide and war, but I think that in general, war, murder, torture and selfish self preservation are caused by people who are torn between doing what they feel is "good" and "right", and what will satisfy their physical and psychological pains and pleasures.
I get criticized for being soft, too nice, a pushover, and a wimp. These criticism come, of course, when my choice of behavior that I see as "good" negatively affects me in the physical and psychological sense. But then, we expect this. Because if the behavior wasn't harmful to me in some way, it wouldn't be "good". It would be natural.
I feel like "good" is natural, though, and very achievable because when I do do something that's "right", that I'm sure will hurt me or not, and it works, either by benefiting me and others or just others, I feel as if I've tapped into the utopia. Things are working the way they should. Everything is easier. The feelings that I want all the time are there, all senses of confusion are gone. I feel like for the moment and in my tiny sphere of influence, the world has been pushed toward it's ideal state. And if everyone did it with one another, things might seem so clearly correct that the behaviors would be sustained, as would the feeling.