"To minimize suffering and to maximize security were natural and proper ends of society and Caesar. But then they became the only ends, somehow, and the only basis of law — a perversion. Inevitably, then, in seeking only them, we found only their opposites: maximum suffering and minimum security." - Walter M. Miller Jr.
...to minimize discord and chaos and to maximize well-being (what the ancient Greeks called "eudamonia").
For that matter, the purpose of religion, of economics, of political science, of the study of history, of science and technology, is to minimize chaos and maximize well-being.
Of course, there are arguments as to how to achieve these things. Certain leftists, who disguise themselves as "libertarians," think the way to to achieve this objective is to get rid of governments and borders. The fact that if this objective was achieved would lead to nothing but death, destruction and murder - genocide, actually - is something they refuse to believe. As for what is happening in Europe right now, including the current Muslim terrorism in France...they avert their eyes and make excuses. Such people, in their sincere delusions, unwittingly want to maximize chaos.
Good intentions mean nothing. You know where that leads. Hell.
Other leftists - probably 99% of them - believe that expanding the government so that it can "take care" of us is the best route to this well-being. They apparently think the government is some sort of god, or maybe just Big Daddy and Big Mommy.
The evidence of history has been that the only thing that works, that gives the greatest well-being for the greatest number of people, is political and economize liberty. The only country that was founded on those concepts is the United States, which is now busy trying to dismantle that which it was founded upon.
The Greeks also noticed the best way to achieve eudamonia is though arete - excellence. You can only achieve this excellence through...political and economic liberty, so you can be free to achieve what you desire.
I'll add one other thing: the West was also founded on Christianity. I've mentioned before that men such as Increase and Cotton Mather, and Jonathan Edwards, were not religious fanatics. They believed in science and technology - and they believed in people being the best they can be.
In fact all the most influential people of those days believed in being the best you can be - Benjamin Franklin and later, Ralph Waldo Emerson. They argued many times that being free and independent (that is, self-reliant) is the best way to live.
How often do I see such claims today? Rarely. A lot of popular Christianity has turned into bizarre claims how Jesus is going to come back with blood and iron, and how we should support Israel to make sure the Rapture happens.
The popular role of government? How many believe in laws and more laws? Lots!
I find this whole paradigm shift just bizarre. It wasn't like this when I was a kid. This honestly is not the same country I grew up in. It's even changed since I was in college. Look at what has happened at the University of Missouri, with presidents resigning over leftist whining. I never saw that in college.
Of course I wonder about the future. None of this can last, obviously. What I see, as I have written before, is science and technology advancing by leaps and bounds, and our government slowly collapsing.
We live in interesting times - and that's an old Chinese curse.