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My identity was a big issue when I was a teenager, and I had a lot of questions, like: 'Who am I?' 'Who do I belong to?' But when I was still quite young, I decided that belonging is a tough process in life, and I'd better say I belonged to myself and the world rather than belonging to one nationality or another.
I was born into a Christian family and brought up in a Lutheran church. My faith has been the center point of my life, really, since I was a child, but at 16 years of age, I fully surrendered my life over to Christ. At that point, as a teenager, I began to grasp the concept of Christ's true love and forgiveness.
As a teenager I was so insecure. I was the type of guy that never fitted in because he never dared to choose. I was convinced I had absolutely no talent at all. For nothing. And that thought took away all my ambition too.
In the early 1940s, as a young teenager, I was utterly appalled by the racist and jingoist hysteria of the anti-Japanese propaganda. The Germans were evil, but treated with some respect: They were, after all, blond Aryan types, just like our imaginary self-image. Japanese were mere vermin, to be crushed like ants.
Take 'Jack and Diane.' I was so disgusted with people thinking the line 'Hold on to sixteen as long as you can' meant to stay a teenager forever. What I meant was keep doing whatever makes you feel alive.