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What Ward do you belong to?

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“What Ward do you belong to?”, he asked me when I met the person I was writing a story for the local paper on.

Wards are part of a religion that was the majority one in the place where I grew up. I wasn’t part of their religion so I answered “I am a member of faith X.” He acted surprised. I explained “This charity is a good work, and I want others to be aware of the prosocial things you are doing here. Is that a problem?” He said no, and continued with the interview.

People often assumed that I was the same religion as they were and often I was the only nonmember in community events that I attended. Another example is a play that I was in. I was asked to lead the prayer and the other cast members told me afterward that it was beautiful what I said and that they could appreciate my obvious spiritually. I am not saying that to brag, but rather that when you don’t focus on the labels, you are more alike than different.

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Why am I sharing this? To say that often others look at you with their filters of what they think the world is. I experienced that all of my life just like everyone else. I was often the fantasy of another person until they asked questions and got to know me. That’s why I try to be sincerely interested in others. It helps to make people real, and not just a shadow/imagination of what we think they are.

I never was tempted to join that religion, but I had many positive/helpful interactions with people of that faith. I also had some negative ones, and that is life. You can’t judge someone on just one aspect, and I have found it helpful to not judge people at all. I let them live their life and assume they are doing the best they can to navigate the complexity of life.

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It is kind of strange to say but out of the four religions that I knew and was involved with growing up they all would read this and think that I have lost the faith and become an evil person. Perhaps I have always been an evil person, but I don’t know who has the truth so I just act with kindness and respect and let others judge me however they want.