A comment on dgp's thread about being kind to JW's promted me to post this thread.
As a life long (46 years) JW, I was conditioned to doing "the right thing" because it was required of me. I was also conditioned to be on the lookout for others not doing the right thing and either distancing myself from them or reporting them to the elders.
Today, I consider myself an atheist. I have nobody telling me what the right thing is or fear of being punished for not doing it. Yet, somehow, I find myself spending a lot of time thinking about just what is this right thing. I have found that I am less demanding and judgemental of others and, at the same time, expect more of myself. Being kind, compassionate and fair have great importance to me now. Looking out for ways to help the people in my life, the community, and the environment are a way of life for me. Nobody expects this of me, I expect it of myself and it gives me a sense of peace and joy.
Here is something I wrote a few months ago, that speaks of my deepest thoughts:
No one watches my every move.
No one reads my thoughts.
No one monitors my dreams.
No one passes judgment, or keeps tabs.
My actions don’t get recorded; to be used against me or in my favor.
I think, and I breathe and I act: alone.
Alone. Responsible for myself.
Able to choose based on experience or whim.
I don’t have to check to see if my choice is the “right” one.
I can change my mind.
I can learn and alter my course.
I’ve no need of confession.
I’ve no fear of punishment.
I expect no rewards.
I have no thoughts of heaven or paradise.
No fairy tale ending awaits me.
I live, not for an idealized future, but for today.
Today I can make someone happy.
Today I can make choices.
Today I have a voice.
I’m truly and completely alone.
But I’m not lonely.
I don’t fear the dark or its prince.
Fear does not rule me.
I find comfort in my own heart;
And in the very depths of my mind.
Places no one can reach, that are private and safe.
I am human.
I am perfect in my uniqueness.
I’ve no unattainable goal to make me feel small.
I am alone.
I am free.
I will not speak for every person, atheist or otherwise, but the way I feel and lead my life is proof that being "godless" does not have to mean being unconcerned with others. :)