Do not be subtle about this; do not dream far away, up to the Heavens.
There is certainly goodness and virtue within your world as you live it, and also sincerity, trust, justice, compassion and good will and even beauty, as much of them as you bring with you and practice in this Spanish inn called human life on Earth.
Beyond this self-centred half-private world where you believe, judge and chose, the high moral values prove to be very real among the humans, as much as they are practiced by other people and groups. The virtues of Humanity do not exist in general, they are the sum of living individual conduct.
”The world as it is”, seen with the factual eye of detached reason and science, is quite bad. The worst you can do is to adapt to it. If we surrender to the cult of given reality, “we shall leave this world as foolish and as wicked as we found it on our arrival” as Voltaire wrote . The animal "laws of nature" and the religion of social "progress", practised by a society or the impersonal domination of technology, money, politics and many "isms", are both as amoral as they appear to be overwhelming.
However, in the face of this, as I witness at the age of 77, I was lucky enough to find that I still had some freedom to live shielded in a personal world - of my own experience. Our own world can be sensibly better than the one around us. My better world was not an utopia of day-dreaming, but my real day to day Odyssey from youth under authoritarian "communism" to liberal "capitalism", earning my bread and travelling the Globe as a citizen of one of the best European democracies.
If you navigate your life-time through your real-life human world on an adroit itinerary, self-determination is possible and almost satisfying. This freedom is allowed by the immense complexity, disorder and lack of control of the larger society.
If you know what you want and what you reject and if you colonize steadily and purposefully your personal life-space following - with discretion - your own moral choices. With a handful of trustworthy friends and deeds of justice, with the disinterested kindness and beauty which are in our modest power, the world as you live it and as you enjoy it during your life-history, that is within your personal sphere, can be much better than the one given to everybody and in general. Under your watch, your existence could flow as good as it gets.
Do not delude yourself that you inhabit the whole Universe where we are nothing and where we count for naught - that world is the homeless point of view of the stars and statistics, the artifact realm of theoretical thinkers and ideologists, not of you and me. We, mortals, do not live in infinity.
You do not live in that millenary turning-wheel and flow called History, where all the horrible things have plenty of time to have happened and to happen again. You do not live your days in History but exclusively in biography, yours and your children's time-horizon is limited to decades. Some sixty active years in times of peace and another few decades of surviving old. The hypocrites and ideologists who deceive you to confuse your biography with "making history" are criminal liars intent to exploit and sacrifice you.
Do not overstretch your responsibility either to the entire misery of the world of which you are made to feel guilty by the endless flow of bad news and hypocrite harangue with which you are inundated. It is not in your power to push ahead the grand processes of progress, nor to be responsible for the whole world at the expense of your minuscule life. But you can do decisive things to fight oppression and need in your immediate surroundings; charity starts home!
You are born, mature, grow old and will die in your local, humble, much smaller niche of successive places, critical situations and people you meet and know, bounded in space and in years. What you have to do well is the minutes, hours, days months, seasons, works you do, losses you suffer, and the handful of main events and relationships of your own life, as it advances one-way and never comes back. Even if you travel the whole World, you will never be able to run faster than your feet or embrace more than you can hold.
Yours is a niche where the small surface of ground you walk looks (and is) flat, where you can and should interpret things by your understanding and do things within your ability. Here, on your unique itinerary, you count a lot, personally, by who you are, by attitude and by choice. Here, your judgement and compassion may rule. This is where you are capable of doing things and therefore responsible.
Your life-story is an end-game at which you can occasionally win a round and cheat even History. Within this space and time, much of what happens to you is because of you (and that much is enough).
The number of really significant people you engage in some sixty active years can be counted on fingers, like the bedside books worth reading. The number of decisive critical events to cope with in one person's life is in fact amazingly limited (if you discern them from the daily noise and fury); thus, most serious choices you make, your wins and losses are as crucial as they are personal.
Moreover, your past, accumulated, cannot be taken away from you whatever befalls; each win is yours forever, each loss may still be recovered as long as you stay alive. Your past is the irrevocable, achieved substance and reality of your biography; second after second, year after year, you become your past. What you do, becomes at once what you did, achieved and went-through - the real, verified world in which you lived, each piece counts. Therefore you have good reason to select, as actively as you can, the lasting content that gets into your treasure-chest of biography.
You live in fact in the “milieu” of a sphere, an existential bubble an “Umwelt” of awareness and conduct which you carry with you like a snail shell, wherever you go.
In your invisible bubble, what you know and believe is the world as lived by you. Optimism or pessimism, giving or not giving meaning and worth, make you live the same "everybody's" world in very different and incommensurable dimensions and colours compared to other people's life space within the same town or country.. The limited number of events that take place as your years pass, the limited number of human relations that take your time, a limited number of deeds, build up who you are; the sum of them all is the reality and the quality of your life.
Your relatives and friends are a handful, irreplaceable. At forty you can still change a lot but you may have already recorded about half of all your notable experiences with the World; at mid life you will already carry for reference and bear on your soul to the end an irrevocable record. It is vital to keep it clean. In your personal life-story, one person, one action, one testimony, one feeling count greatly; do not delude yourself that they will pass dissolved and diminished in the swarming and wriggling statistics of humanity. They are not relative, nor passing. They are your personal world.
In this existential bubble you can invent, initiate, invite and shelter purposefully and artificially things most unusual, idealistic, fragile and impossible for the "hard reality", custom and prejudice around you; you can give a dog a dream-life in which everybody's aim is to love, protect and nourish him; you can give your friends a priceless world where they can trust a friend; you can create life - have children who will live after you; you can give your child a childhood where he is the centre of the world and where kindness exists. You can steadily favour sincerity, goodness, justice to win and be rewarded by your own acts. On the small piece of flat, certain, ground around your feet, you can often sentence wickedness, treachery and abuse to lose.
Your personal life-space can be, if you resolve so, a micro-topia, a small ideal place which actually exists; that is radically different from Utopia, the nowhere place that is impossible because it is radical and totalitarian. In your bubble, some commonsense goodness, sincerity and beauty, or at least some fairness and some justice are quite possible - simply because and provided that you value and practice these things – even secretly if you must - with no need to be allowed, approved or rewarded.
Were the world heading into yet another bad time of History, your secret garden can still be an underground reservation of goodness and beauty, preserving from extinction that which you value, as we preserve the last tigers in a zoo. Just be prudent, reasonable and wisely flexible on the surface, where your bubble hits the "real world".
It is in your power to practice the Golden Rule whenever good sense allows it, to choose an eye for an eye or turning the other cheek - that will be (and later that was) the prevailing rule of your world.
It is here in your microcosm that respect and gratitude exist and shine if you show it and it is here, in this reservation, that if you are a friend, you will have a serious chance to have friends.
Be polite and your small world will be more polite, certainly more civil and easier to live than the venomous unforgiving jungle of the pushy, the barbarous, the fanatic and the paranoid, convicted to live their life as meanly as they are.
Miraculously, a good part of the human world, said rightly to be “material and factual”, is dependent - for us - on how we suppose it to be and how we appear to it and how we engage it; many people are with you as you come up to them, as you make them be, as you believe and trust them to be. This is why if the whole world smells fish, you must wash your nose.
Yes, humans can do things, build things that did not exist, invent, actually create "from nothing" make things become true, simply because so they imagine and prefer. In my life I found repeatedly that I was treated kindly and saved from danger - most unexpectedly - by anonymous people who had no interest in me or even by people known to be bad, attended to generously by persons who did not possibly expect return and dealt with justly by doubtful individuals. Maybe they simply liked me or rather liked themselves to do something unselfish and good. The opposite was also true. How you deal with harm counts; as Gracian wrote, you grab a knife by its handle to use it not by its blade to cut your hand; and he continues: " a wise man makes better use of his enemies that a fool of his friends".
I witness with my experience that goodness is reliable and trust mostly justified. Friends for life did not betray me, with one pathetic (and after all minor) exception; could I have survived without my kin? No. Strangely, I was able to give much more to complete aliens than to those I owe gratitude. That spontaneous goodness - that luxurious "softness", in a "tough" world, the fact that I feel sorry for myself and therefore I also feel sorry for other beings, those free and arbitrary acts of stepping-in unasked, of help, care and justice, may have entitled me to keep receiving all the unmerited support which I was and am given. Without that, if still alive, I would live bankrupt inside, an insolvent debtor, forever guilty and dishonourable.
Some good people need to know that God's eye sees everything to grant from above their faith in the possibility of goodness and of justice. I envy such comfortable faith but it suffices me to know that what goes around comes around, that there is inexorable balance and measure in everything and that sooner or later what happens to people is because of them.
There certainly emerges some goodness in the world whenever you do something good or fair or right. Even the vicious pay to this virtue the compliment of hypocrisy.
Be kind and lo! Kindness is born again from the ashes, like the Phoenix bird! Smile to one and the Good - if there is any left - will sprout through the dry crust of indifference.
Rising higher and forgiving (with good sense, not with masochism) seems to be capable at times of changing the course of hopeless conflict, maybe even of History. Have a spine too! Punishing evil keeps it at bay, at least for a while.
There is trust in the world if you start by trusting people whenever and as long as you reasonably can; distrust and you live forever the prisoner's dilemma. "Tit for tat" is a geniuses' idea.
While you kept doing these good things, as if by magic, you grow entitled in your soul to expect the same from other people, without abusing them. You become a better person. Indulge thus in random acts of kindness. Let me insist; for those who cannot understand my words life is bitter and poisoned forever. They will find only what they expect to find.
Maybe you are disappointed by the lack of recognition for your effort, compassion and justice and generosity. This is because you assume justice from above or a reward from outside, from other people. In fact the reward comes from yourself, as self-respect and well-being, as quality of life. You do not even need to be an altruist to be good; it is in your own egoistic interest. When you do good, you feel good and become better; is that luxury not enough?
On the other hand there is always some justice there outside among people, eternally reborn in the wider world, at least because - as I find - action begets reaction, fullness empties and emptiness fills, sooner or later. Additionally, other people are as good and prone to justice as you. Or much better.
Everything is paid in some way, usually through its own effects in time. Things carry their justice in their nature. I believe that there are some blind universal principles of nature at work that result in moral sanction; all exagérations result in their contrary, extremes prove false and bad without fail. I believe that moral laws express in words the evolutionary needs of the human species.
All extremes and exaggerations fall prey, sooner or later, to their dysfunctional absurdity contrary to the balance of life and common sense.
Respect the common places of tradition: what swells too much bursts. Bad feelings poison and choke. Who transgresses, will one day go too far. What you stretch too much breaks. As you sow, so you reap. What you do not use, rusts. What you buy cheap is cheap. Easy come easy go. Who seeds wind will harvest storm...
All this seems to be boring commonplace wisdom; so true that it appears worn out. But it isn't. Patience to wait by the riverside helps all this come by to serve your reality... Wait and chose. If you find the resilience to wait, such moral will prevail.
Certainly there is a time for everything and some seasons do not wait; all I claim does not replace learning from other people's errors and from yours, doing what humans must do to stay feet on ground in their times, swimming in order not to drown, winning some whenever you can, defending yourself with a firm hand and learning to lose some with grace, without losing heart and life.
In essence you are amazingly free to chose course, to determine what places you visit or keep away from in this wide, mad world. You are an influential author of who you are and of what your lived world is made of.
In one hundred occasions there may be ninety-nine when you don’t have much choice, constraint exists and facts are facts; but there is always one when you can choose freely to be good and beautiful or at least just. That one choice decides who you are. That one decides the answer:
Is there justice in the world? Does goodness exist?
Let me summarise with a metaphoric story from my other "blog", This reminds me of a story:
In one hundred occasions there may be ninety-nine when you don’t have a choice. But there is one when you can choose to do what you think to be good and right. That one decides who you are, with no excuse. This reminds me of a story*:
The sand of the Black Sea coast was covered with myriads of starfish washed ashore by the storm, doomed to be soon dried out by the sun. Nasreddin the wise Sufi fool picked them up patiently and threw them back, one by one, undisturbed by the hopeless immensity of the task.
A passer-by wondered and asked him,
“Why are you wasting your time? What is must be. It’s all Allah’s will. Don’t you see that whatever you can do doesn't count at all?”
“It counts for me, and it counts for this one,” answered Hodja, tossing yet another starfish into the tide.
* (The original was written by Loren Eiseley (1907–1977) "The Star Thrower"1978, Times Books, Random House).
 in Arthur Schopenhauer , The Wisdom of Life and Other Essays, tr. B. Saunders and E. B. Bax, Dunne, Washington and London
The original: « Nous laisserons, vous et moi, madame, ce monde-ci aussi sot, aussi méchant que nous l'avons trouvé en y arrivant… » « Lettre à Madame la comtesse de Lutzelbourg », dans Œuvres complètes de Voltaire, éd. Garnier frères, 1877, vol. 40, 19 mars 1760, lettre 4074, p. 332
 This notion, Umwelt – the life space or surrounding formed by our world of the known and world of action is crucial to the way we understand a being in its world is due to the work of Jakob von Uexküll. Uexküll’s books and political views are dated but his genius is alive. This alternative of exploring the actual subjective reality of persons is recently revived. See for example Carlo Brentari, Jakob von Uexküll, The Discovery of the Umwelt between Biosemiotics and Theoretical Biology, Springer Dordrecht.., 2015