tl:dr: Our world can be improved. Ethics demand we meet that challenge.
Arthur E. Morgan was a self-taught civil engineer, as well as an educator, a writer of more than 20 books, and a labor arbiter. He served as the first chairman of the Tennessee Valley Authority, and as president of Antioch College in Ohio.
Ethical Living And Desirable Ends | Arthur E. Morgan | This I Believe
Every living thing has an inner urge to perfection, according to its type. Faith, hope, aspiration—inherent in life itself—are older, stronger, deeper than any creed. Man is part of nature. In him, this aspiration becomes conscious search for value. Life has traveled a long hard road. Unnumbered species have lost the way and become extinct. Can man squander his inheritance, yet survive? Unsparing inquiry leaves me faith that if he would do his reasonable best, he probably will succeed in his great quest.
Were success foreordained, how I live would not change the prospect. If, as seems to me, human life is a real adventure with possibility of failure as well as of success, then sincere purposeful living may affect the outcome. The margin of probability of full success in the human adventure may not be great. Take a semi-fanciful case: Suppose atomic war, should it occur, might destroy humanity. Whether mutual confidence grows fast enough to prevent such war may depend partly on how I help build mutual trust, how fully and wisely I share with those less fortunate, how completely I pursue the good life as a whole, not just my own. ...
Of numberless possible and desirable goals, I am not sure which are best. But there are ways of living which I am sure will lead toward the best. These include goodwill and sincerity, doing as I would be done by, being honest with myself. My opportunity—my duty—is loyalty to the quest of life for values. To live as a dilettante, or for personal ends, is betrayal. Where one’s treasure is, there will his heart be also. As I train my desires so that my treasure is the good of life as a whole, I become immune to the despair which may follow failure of lesser hopes.