Humankind has experienced thousands of years of "Life"...of which each of us may know for a limited period of time. Our "Beliefs" will dictate much of what our lives will be all about.
If we believe that there is another life, following death, then we may spend much time in working to achieve a successful transition to the 'other life' that follows death. Usually through adhering to the "instructions" of our Religions...and encouraging others to do the same.
If we have come to believe that this life is the only one that we shall ever know...then, perhaps we may spend more time enjoying the miracle of life itself...and encouraging others to do the very same.
We "believers" and "un-believers" are not altogether "different" though...as we both have a deep desire to be appreciated and to be remembered in the hearts of those we leave behind...at our "Earthly" life's ending. This means that we both will naturaly do "good things" during our lifetimes.
It seems to me that all Human Beings are born capable and compassionate from their very first day of life. It is only the influence of the society into which we are born, that will tend to make us otherwise. It is the nature of Human Beings (and other living things as well) to desire to be loved and appreciated...and, therefore,at a very early age we will readily absorb the teachings of our Pareants and our Societies. Their teachings will often be the determining factor of our actions (for better or worse) throughout much of our lives.
Teachings of both Parents and Societies must, therefore, be based in both goodness and wisdom...if we are to live satisfying lives...and our societies are to prosper.
Considering our centuries of wars against one another, I must conclude that, historically, many of the "teachings" that have been given to Children...have not always been wise teachings.
It becomes, therefore, a duty of every person born into this world, to evaluate the teachings received in their very earliest years, in each and every generation. This evaluation often becomes possible as we reach the age of as little as 6 years or so...and should be continuous through out our lives.
Otherwise, just living by "rote" (as we may have been taught as Children) may, far too frequently, brings disaster upon both Individuals and Societies. Where-as, "Thinking for Ourselves" may afford the opportunity for a better life...in every generation.
This is not just my opinion....it is history.