From Minor Threat to Major Movement
The Newkind statement on furthering the StraightEdge movement.
The StraightEdge movement was born in the early 80's as a sub-culture of the hardcore punk scene. At its roots, it is a counter-culture to the already subversive punk rock scene of the time. The punk scene of the 70's was anti-establishmentarian, progressive and committed to positive social change. There were clear political messages in much of the scene and the music and a strong resistance to the excesses of the mainstream rock of the 70's. This group of youth were politically engaged, angry, angsty and ready for a revolution, much like the hippies of the 60's.
The irony in their rebellion to the excesses of mainstream rock is that the punk rock scene developed its own excesses; the use of drugs and alcohol, other intoxicants, sexual promiscuity was rampant and violence was commonplace. By the late 70's there was a growing sentiment towards anti-inebriation developing in the punk rock scene as a resistance to the violence and substance abuse. Several bands were including lyrics that pointed towards cleaner living and an abandonment of intoxicants.
And then the band Minor Threat released their song "Straight Edge". This track that was barely a minute long, gave the movement both a name and a clear message. Straight. Edge.
The adherents of StraightEdge philosophy, of their own accord, refrained from the use of intoxicants, consumption of addictive substances, and sexual promiscuity, all to varying degrees according to their own understandings of what is addictive, what is intoxicating and what is promiscuity. Everyone uses their own judgement, which is reflective of the self-initiated, self-respecting nature of StraightEdge. Some consider sugar as addictive, some consider pharmaceuticals as intoxicants, while others have differing understandings of what is and is not promiscuous. At the very minimum, to be considered StraightEdge one would not consume drugs, alcohol, cigarettes or other intoxicants for recreational purposes.
But more than just a list of things to not do, the StraightEdge philosophy, at its core, was an expression of respect and respectfulness. This refers to respect for ones own body, and respect for others and their bodies. Respectfulness in the way we conduct ourselves, how we treat our bodies and how we interact with others.
By respecting our bodies it is meant that we do not ingest poisons and addictive substances as they are seen as damaging to the body and disruptive to its systems and functions. Addiction of any kind is a terrible thing to be in the grip of, but particularly addiction to substances that can so swiftly destroy the mind and the body. The StraightEdge philosophy advocates for the health and well-being of the body, and far from being a kill-joy ideology, it was actually championing the very progressive idea that remaining clear-minded and healthy was a better way to enjoy life to the fullest.
Respecting others and their bodies meant refraining from violence, promiscuity and thoughtless intimacy. The excessive use of alcohol and the drugs lent itself to facilitating both the unnecessary and mindless violence, as well as the disconnected and emotionless sex. Treating others with respect implies firstly that violence is not resorted to and that all measures are taken to avoid it. But more importantly than that, the concept of respecting other people and their bodies meant that intimacy and sex was respectful and connected.
For far too long sex has been used like a drug, like food, like alcohol; to cover and suppress feelings of loneliness, hurt and pain. When we engage on this level, or when we allow others to engage with us on this level we are opening ourselves emotionally to a situation for someone else to use our body to cover an emotion that they do not want to express or deal with intelligently. This allows for further hurt to be perpetuated and emotional trauma to not only be passed on but to remain unresolved. When a connection is what is craved, then the connection is what should first be nurtured, mutual respect established, friendship or comradery developed before sexual intimacy is engaged with. This is what it means to engage in respectful relations, to keep a clean heart and to treat others bodies with respect and love.
This group of youth from the 70's who spurred the StraightEdge movement were not following any direction by a leader or elder, nor were they adhering to any imposed obligations, and that is what makes this movement so inspiring to witness. It is also why its adherents take such pride in being a part of it. This movement naturally and organically sprouted as a counter to the excess of the surrounding environment. A group of youth, from within a scene that was so heavily sedated with drugs and alcohol, decided for themselves to be clean, clear and respectful towards others, by refraining from behaviours that they themselves recognised as damaging. That is a very bright beacon of hope and inspiration indeed.
This movement was not born out of angst, anger, resentment or any adversarial sentiment whatsoever. It was pure and simply a decision to consciously evolve and live in a more respectful, ethical and self-aware manner. The already progressive, counter-culture, social change motivated undertone of the punk rock scene was given further clarity and focus by this small group who began embodying the StraightEdge philosophy. This is one of the few movements that was not born out of oppositional politics, and it is for this reason that it is so closely aligned and embedded in the Newkind philosophy.
The Newkind movement draws strongly from this lineage and the foundations laid by the youth of the late 70's and early 80's. In times like these the clarity and clear-headedness that the StraightEdge movement championed, is ever more necessary and required. This is not a dogma or a judgement, but simply the understanding that if we see the current global situation, as something that we wish to address and if the political, environmental and spiritual rebalancing of society is what we wish to be a part of, then being clear-headed, focused and sober is required of us.
The idea that we use drugs and alcohol, and also sex, as a crutch and as a deferral mechanism is obvious to most of us, and the StraightEdge philosophy aligns with Newkind philosophy in the respect that we see a need to address that which is at the core of all social and spiritual concerns rather than avoidance and deferral. It is as much about remaining sober on the job, as it is about experiencing and witnessing life without any anaesthetic, so to speak.
The truth is, that which is carried in the heart is expressed through our daily actions, our decisions and our language; and as such if there is hurt, angst or anxiety in the heart, then best it is felt and addressed, instead of silenced with our drug of choice and it exuding from our being in our daily lives. It is what each individual within society carries in the heart, that adds to the collective experience that we call society. If we are unclear in our thoughts, if we are carrying hurt in our hearts, if we are untruthful with our emotions, then this will inevitably be seen in the collective co-creation we call society.
Further to this, Newkind champions a sober and straight-edged way of life for it lends itself to a better quality of life, a more sentient and sensitive experience of life, a more honest and connected home, and a heightened sense of awareness of one's inner and outer world. We are beings endowed with great intelligence, nobility and creativity, we have the capacity for such glorious achievements and progressive ways of being, and it seems the use of drugs and alcohol and other intoxicants are largely holding us back.
Much akin to our understandings of meat and dairy in our diets, we are beginning to see very clearly now, how the benefits of the consumption of alcohol and drugs were actually lies, and its social acceptability was touted by those set to benefit from our consumption of them. And the benefits of refraining from their use, are day by day, becoming clearer to us.
When one is lost in the woods, as society seems to be as a collective these days, lighting a fire and getting drunk and high around it is probably not the best idea, though some will decide to do so. The leaders, however, the champions, the ones who find a way to safety or devise a technique or technology that leads the way to greater understanding or discovers a path to advancement are the straight-edged and sober ones. The ones who remained clear-headed and present with the task or situation at hand.
This is what it means to be Newkind, this is what it means to be a leader, this is what it means to be an active and effective agent of social change. We will remain focused, clear and present. We will not place judgement on the action of any other, but we will not compromise our own ethics and understandings. We will spend our time engaged and active, we will uphold and champion respect and nobility and we will definitely not surrender.