I'm a new bronze subscriber after listening to Stefan for over a year now. I know that five bucks a month isn't much, but in this age where most information, music, and other entertainment is available for free on the internet, I think it's a high compliment, and my very small way of saying thanks. I plan on giving more in the future.
I have always been fairly introspective. As a child, and still to some extent as an adult, I've always felt like an outsider looking in, just observing what others were saying and doing. My childhood wasn't very happy but I can pick out a few people in my life that have been life savers, in retrospect.
Growing up, we didn't really talk about religion or politics, not that it was something to avoid, just that it wasn't something that ever came up in conversation. I was an atheist before I even knew what an atheist was or cared to know.
Then at about the age of 12, my step-mom introduced fundamental Christianity to us. The character of Jesus really appealed to me, much in the same way I was obsessed with Superman. Only I was being told this superhero was real. I never really believed it but I really wanted to be liked by my step-mom so I became a "born-again" Christian. Weird, we never went to church though. She just made us read the bible and watch christian tv. As far as parenting style though, she and my dad were pretty permissive bordering on neglect. We ran around and did whatever we wanted.
Then at about 16 I was forced to live with my mom who I had no real relationship with before. She was also a Christian and we went to church every sunday, had sunday dinner, the whole thing, which was not appealing to me at all. At that point I realized I wasn't a Christian. My mom and step-dad were also very politically conservative and made it pretty apparent. Their parenting style was very different. It was very authoritarian. I left home at 17.
I had a son when I was 18 but then moved in with my grandmother when I started college. By this time, I always assumed I was an atheist but it wasn't until college that I had the intellectual capacity to know why. Also, my grandmother, who had a strong jewish background was very liberal, and I kind of followed suit politically from there. That was pretty much my affiliation for many years. I wasn't outspoken about it, but it was just something I thought was the more moral way to live.
I spent many years concentrating on the religious side of philosophy and I never really questioned politics. Democracy was the best way to organize society, it was just a matter of fact not to be questioned. If democracy was the best way, then the only way to protect it was to have a strong government to make sure the strong didn't exploit the weak.
Yet being an atheist I always prided myself on my critical thinking skills and over the years, through a gradual process of questioning my assumptions, I've grown more and more libertarian. Philosophically it made sense but for a long time my attitude was a lot like Sam Seder's in that libertarianism isn't practical therefore let's be liberal.
So about a couple years ago I was watching some Jon Stewart (one of my political heroes at the time) clips on youtube, and I stumbled upon Stefan's video where he answers Jon Stewart's 19 questions for libertarians. That was my first holy shit moment listening to Stefan. Unlike other libertarian commentators, he just seemed more honest, sincere and educational. The next video I watched was his brilliant diatribe on voting (I haven't voted since).
Then I found out he was an atheist. I've been hooked ever since.
Now, I'm focused on parenting. As you probably would have guessed from my upbringing, it's something I probably struggle with. I haven't been the best parent. I'm not proud. I have 4 children, the oldest is 21, and the youngest is 12. I wish I was a better parent when they were younger, I wasn't abusive physically, but I did yell and I've used shame which is worse than physical abuse in my opinion. The dynamics of trying to raise 4 children has really been much more complicated than I could have ever imagined. On top of not having any good role models, I was also very young and I've not been equipped to deal with it, so yelling seemed like the only way. Though they're teenagers now, frankly the most troubling and worrying time, I've made a conscious effort to be more rational, and try to remain calm. I have a lot of work to do to unwind the damage that's already been done but I think I'm on the right path.