October 17th is Edge Day! Straight edge people do not drink, do drugs, or smoke. But not everyone who refrains from these activities is necessarily straight edge. Straight edge is typically seen as an identity worn by people who strongly oppose the culture that is created by drugs, alcohol, and tobacco.
1. To me, this in an ethical stance against injustice, not a personal choice
In the words of xTrue Naturex in their song Ink Under Your Skin,
"For every person killed by a drunk driver,
I remain Straight Edge.
And for every kid beaten by his alcoholic father,
I made this commitment for them
And for every home torn apart by a drug addict.
I remain Straight Edge.
And for every rape and molestation.
I remain Straight Edge."
2. My experiences influence the way I react in non-straight edge situations
I have some horrible memories being around drunk people and I don't want to relive any of it. I hate the feelings of uncertainty and uneasiness that accompany being sober around intoxicated folks.
3. I want to be the best version of myself
I have done irresponsible things while not in control of my faculties. I used to skip out on animal rights events to smoke. I was paranoid, lazy, and took unnecessary risks. While this part of my life only lasted for a few months, I have no interest in exploring if these things would change over time. I want to know exactly what's happening at all times, even if what is happening is shitty a lot of the time. Because this way, I know I am reacting responsibly, or at least attempting to. I also just... love thinking. I don't want to damage my brain or my body.
4. Straight edge is an aspect of my minimalist lifestyle
I want to spend money on things that enrich my life, not ones that distract me from it. I believe in investing in helping others as much as possible, through my time and finances. I spend a decent amount of energy and money on the nonhumans I share my home with and on advocating for a better world for animals and humans. Drinking and smoking habits can drain our resources very quickly.
5. I am thinking long-term about the direction of my life
In July of 2016, I was arrested for disrupting the Nathan's Hot Dog Eating contest (video above, I'm the blonde one). We were protesting the glorification of the consumption of animals. Two other activists and I spent 12 hours in jail and had to travel back to New York a month later to appear at a hearing. We got exceptional press coverage on the issue of animal rights and I realized that participating in civil disobedience and direct action to bring attention to nonhuman animals was something that I cared about very much.
It was shortly after this that I became straight edge. I knew that I would be taking more legal risks for animals in the future, and I didn't feel that breaking the law to drink or do drugs was a worthy cause anymore. If I was planning a life with potential future arrests for activism, alcohol and drugs were unnecessary liabilities.
6. Handling tough times sober has helped me feel stronger
A couple of years ago, I made it through four months of severe depression without touching a cigarette, bong, or bottle. I now feel that I handle things in a much healthier way, knowing that I will not depend on a substance to get me through.
(I want to clarify that this is not shaming those who medicate using medicinal marijuana or any other types of prescription drugs to get through the day or to be yourself.)
If I'm with you around drugs, alcohol, or tobacco, it's likely that I won't tell you how I really feel. But I hope you'll give my thoughts some consideration. A straight edge world would be a world with less suffering. In a culture so entrenched in getting drunk and high, it can be difficult to be the odd one out. But ethics has never been about fitting in.