Let the classics set your mind on fire. Here is a quote from Pericles Funeral Oration from "The Peloponnesian War". THUCYDIDES (c. 470–c. 400 BC).
"We cultivate refinement without extravagance, and knowledge without effeminacy: wealth we employ more for use than for show and place the real disgrace of poverty not in owning to the face but in declining to struggle against it."
It would not be wise to attempt to kill idealism. We can still work towards a kind of temporal perfection despite our propensity for failure, and despite our species eventual extinction.
(Does mortality make existence less real?)
Each day may give rise to spectacular deeds and sacrifices that may motivate us to live in a way that demands improvement.
Best Practices as they are implemented today, verses shortcuts that may give us immediate gain at the expense of lives or livelihoods can only be justified through cold statistical analysis as a means of rationally mitigating decisions that put people in peril.
It is easy to ignore other people's suffering when we are not directly affected, but when you and yours are the ones paying the price for indifference the pain is no less excruciating and debilitating. No one is immune.
The Classics may often be exceedingly idealized versions of reality that completely ignore the uglier aspects of real life. However unsatisfying, we can only infer from scarce sources and fragile lines of evidence what life was really like thousands of years ago. And historical sources are just as biased in their perspectives and opinions as we are. Humans are flawed hyper social creatures. Poets and artists, it seems, are the only ones strange enough to find beauty in our imperfections. But however crippled by our nature we are, we must never let reality keep us from aspiring to do better. At the heart of this aspiration there is an inherent belief that we are capable of great things, capable of great compassion and great love.
Meditate for a moment on what is sacred. Each of us, in our own time, inherited a unique way of paying tribute to the mundane sacred things of nature that surround us, and yet found a completely individual way to express it.
PERICLES’ FUNERAL ORATION
THUCYDIDES (c. 470–c. 400 BC)