“I have never thought of straight edge as an organized movement,I was never kidding about the lyrics and the decisions about my own lifestyle. I just wasn’t interested in engineering a code to be enforced on others.”
- Ian MacKaye
For 15 years I was Straight Edge. That is not to say I have changed my beliefs, or really my lifestyle since, but that I have grown disillusioned with the very thing this thing has become.
The entire premise of Straight Edge was that the people in the greatest position, those who were most willing to make a difference in this world were spending all of their time and energy pursuing things that were at best petty rebellion: getting wasted, getting stoned, getting laid. Pursuits that, while they annoyed the clergy and some parents, never accomplished anything. Straight edge was a rejection of those petty rebellions. An acknowledgment that instead; young, open minded people, the outliers of society; should be getting educated, getting vocal and making a difference.
The older guys I saw in St. Louis were putting their energy towards shouting down racists. Playing in punk rock bands, and talking to younger people (like me) about doing something.. anything positive. Everything I have seen makes me sad for what could have been.
If you listen to the old Straight Edge bands: Youth of Today, Minor Threat, 7seconds, Gorilla Biscuits. All of the lyrics were about doing, being, making changes. Now bands like Earth crisis, and most of the bands on the Victory Label ( some of which are bands that I like, btw) are just negative. How this person or that is full of shit, or wrong, or whatever. The whole "movement" for lack of a better term is negative, and full of hate. Rage is fine, hate is not.
Every scene I have been around has become one gigantic pissing contest. It has become it's own navel gazing petty rebellion.
When I was younger, I wore Xs so that others like me could identify with me. I wore a shirt that said "Straight Edge" so that I didn't have to deflect offers of beer at parties. I never did, wore or said anything to anyone not making those choices. I never questioned anyone who claimed to be straight edge about his motivations or whether or not he'd "broken his edge."
What do I care. The quality of the person is not in the labels he takes or is given, but in the quality of his actions.
I have no interest in anyone or group of people who categorically writes off others. It's no different than racism, classism, or misogyny.
I have no interest in drinking. Drugs never appealed to me. I am a very faithful married man.. but am I Straight edge? Who cares?
"For most men life is a search for the proper manila envelope in which to get themselves filed."