This week’s participant asked to remain anonymous. Instead of taking their picture, we asked them to provide a photo they had taken that best represented their beliefs. They further requested to submit their own reflections, since they wanted to participate, but did not feel comfortable being interviewed. They gave me their reflections in a hand-written letter. What follows is a transcription of the letter.
I was raised in a non-religious family and didn’t have much emotional support. One time, I became very spiritual. I was searching my soul and I needed a guide. I fell into Buddhism, but not as a religion – more like a philosophy. The guide helps me to be happier and better at every moment.
Unfortunately not everyone has a good family. We humans need to belong to or connect to somewhere or someone. Some people struggle to connect with peers and others in society. Religion can be a place that provides that connection. I feel that through participation in the community, people can flourish and successfully overcome their sense of isolation. That’s why I volunteer.
If religion makes people happy and to feel loved, then I accept it. I’m not against it. What I look for in religion is: acceptance of differences, respect, compassion, openness, forgiveness, peace, and a way to be glad, be grateful, be curious and be generous.
I believe that religious and nonreligious people can live together if we respect and accept each other.