When it comes to Buddhism applied to social ethics, we must emphasize Peace, Health, and Harmonious co-existence (with other people and species) as the key goals to aim for, both tactically and strategically.
In effect you are asking whether one should focus on not creating the opposites of these three in one's own life vs. actively working out there in the ...
Altruism is defined as the belief in or practice of disinterested and selfless concern for the well-being of others.
With respect to Buddhism, altruism is therefore:
AN4.95:1.4: one who practices to benefit others, but not themselves;
Quite significantly, Buddhism goes further:
AN4.95:3.2: The person who practices to benefit themselves, but not others, is ...
The Dhammapada teaches to leave miserliness and embrace giving and charity.
177. Truly, misers fare not to heavenly realms; nor, indeed, do
fools praise generosity. But the wise man rejoices in giving, and by
that alone does he become happy hereafter.
223. Overcome the angry by non-anger; overcome the wicked
by goodness; overcome the miser by generosity; ...
How important is to buddhist to make the world a better place, not just by developing negative (as "absence of something", not as "bad") wholesome qualities, but by changing the general conditions of the world?
In terms of logical expression, the absence of something is actually a super-set that already includes positive forms. Ex: "...
The world is currently in a really bad place therefore no amount of altruism can tangibly make the world a better place.
For example, I often give what i can to independent reporters who risk their lives in foreign countries (or report other things) but, in reality, that is a waste of time because so few people listen to their reporting.
Or recently I gave ...