The Early Days of Straight Edge
"i'm a person just like you
but i've got better things to do
than sit around and fuck my head
hang out with the living dead."
It’s still possible that a few folks are unfamiliar with the “straight edge” counter-culture movement that started in the punk rock days of the 1980s. Spawned, or at least named, by Minor Threat’s punk song of the same name, the Straight Edge movement was a direct rebellion against the hedonism of the 1960s that had found its inevitable peak in the extreme punk rock scene. In a music and activism culture that was obsessed with massive indulgence in drugs, alcohol, sex, and debauchery, the straight edgers believed music and living could be about more than self-destruction and uncontrolled indulgence.
The primary tenet of Straight Edge was the abstinence from drugs and alcohol, which was pretty radical in and of itself in the punk rock scene of the 80s and 90s. But the sXe folks took it a step further, advocating vegan diets and no caffeine, as well as responsible sexual partnerships and environmental awareness. Like all movements, the Straight Edge crowd had a few bad apples who were judgmental and holier than thou about their chosen lifestyle but for the most part these ideals were non-judgmental and personal. It was like taking sacred vows for reasons that were of a higher, more conscious, and even spiritual nature.
There is still an active Straight Edge community today, one that mixes with other activist groups and underground scenes. The music and art was certainly a vehicle for these ideas but the values of clean conscious living are universal. For addicts who are struggling with maintaining a sober lifestyle amidst crowds of drinking colleagues and partying friends, it can’t hurt to take a look into this underground scene and the people in it. There’s something very powerful about making abstinence and healthy choices a cool thing to do, even in the punk rock and rave scenes. Some Straight Edge communities do counseling and buddy programs for new converts facing addiction recovery. Rather than placing blame or advocating a new religion, the philosophy of straight edge living can be a great recovery tool. When you make it cool and spiritually uplifting to take care of your body and make positive life choices, you create a feedback loop in your behavior that actually feels good to stay sober.
And if you listen to the song itself, you might just want to shout and rage a bit to get in the mood for your newfound values.
"I’VE GOT THE STRAIGHT EDGE!!"