I maintain that people can and do make substantive life changes. People do stop smoking or stop using drugs. Others do become kinder and gentler. Failing students do buckle down and begin to study. Overweight people do lose weight and become thinner.
In addition to people making personal changes, I think that society can and has changed for the better. Even though horrific events are happening as I write this post, I think that we have made some positive moral steps forward as a society throughout history. The signing of the Magna Carta in 1215, the formation of the United Nations, and ending of Apartheid in South Africa are examples of society striving to improve.
In the United States through the actions of civil rights leaders like Martin Luther King and others, we have changed from a nation where only white male property owners had full rights of citizenship to a country where all free adult citizens can vote and own property. We have changed from a country with segregated accommodations, schools, and transportation to a country that elected a man with a Kenyan father to be president of the United States.
Of course usually, the only way a personal goal can be reached is if we work towards that goal. And perhaps, the only way that society changes for the better is if we work together for the greater good. I am confident that we can do both.