Years ago I read George Elliot’s Middlemarch and though the book itself will never make my list of most beloved novels, I was changed in a lasting way by the final line:
“… the effect of her being on those around her was incalculably diffusive: for the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.”
A life of quiet virtue lived out doing good for those we know adds to the general good of the world. The ocean does not exist without every drop of water in it and even accepting that if this drop were missing or that one was gone there would not be a material difference in the ocean’s depth and breath each drop contributes to the greater whole. Each star adds its own unique sparkle to the night sky. I can not make the world good, but I can improve my little corner of it and by doing so add to the general good of humanity.