some background on what (may or may not have) influenced me:
my parents are palestinian, born and raised in nazareth. when my father was a teen, he was shot in the foot and his friend in the chest by israeli soldiers. when applying for college, he was denied acceptance because he wanted to study electrical engineering and it is considered a 'security risk' for a palestinian to study such things. so he applied for 5 years and eventually got accepted to a university in kentucky with a full ride, and moved to the U.S. without hesitation. after a couple visits back home, he met and married my mother who worked at city hall in nazareth. they moved to los angeles. she was (and remains) a strong-willed, stubborn, determined, independent and smart (though somewhat close-minded) woman. my father is unbelievably easy-going, smart and logical (and way more open-minded).
my father studied drafting and architectural drawing and taught the same subject for about 30 years at a local high school. my mother worked for various airlines for almost the same length of time at LAX.
i went to a catholic school for 8 years and pretty much ignored the religious aspects - i simply did not feel drawn to it at all. i went to church because we had to, prayed because we had to, etc. i didn't get much out of it, though i am an extremely kind person with a high level of personal integrity. i can't stand making anyone upset, so maybe a little of that comes from there. i was definitely drawn to math and science, and computers (began on an amiga 500, to apple classics, to power macs, to pcs). i have been drawing pretty much since i was born.
public high school was extremely refreshing. the students were way more diverse in personalities and opinions than the catholic school and this diversity was healthy. i picked up the guitar and it has battled with my drawing pencil for my time ever since...
it was during high school that i began to take an interest in politics, though this was mostly personal and i kept to myself.
i went to ucsb where i met kazu and company, drawing for the daily nexus. opinions at ucsb were much more open, though the demographics are very very narrow. it wasn't as diverse as high school...
in college i began to become addicted to alternative news sources and digging up facts that aren't shown in mainstream news. my brother is extremely informed / passionate about politics and has definitely had a major influence in my attitude. the biggest influence he has had though, is to simply keep yourself informed, do your own research and not just take what you hear as fact. my longtime girlfriend shares similar concerns and has definitely been receptive to my rants, and we can have meaningful discussions and debates about politics, religion, and the world. i began to become deeply saddened by the state of affairs in the world, the repression, and the sparkly-clean facade of american pop culture. if i think about what is going on in the rest of the world, i can bring myself to cry and i try not to do this too much.
i find it funny that religious people seem to be pro-bush... if i remember anything, its that one of the commandments was "thou shall not kill." seems pretty clear to me... i wonder if jesus would support the iraq war? i bet he'd say "go troops!"
to sum it up:
i'm an independent thinker... i pick up what makes sense to me. while i was heavily surrounded by religion, i am very non-religious. this doesn't mean i'm a bad person (voted "most friendly" in high school). i just try to be good and that's that. i have become increasingly aware / involved in politics in the last 6-7 years and this is due to a result in my parents' history, my own urge to hunt down facts / absorb information, and some influence from friends.