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Instead of giving you the history and definition of straight-edge like you see on most straight-edge pages, I thought I'd give an explanation of why I chose to be drug-free as well as why I chose to label myself straight-edge.

In middle school and high school, when my friends were experimenting with drugs and alcohol, I always had a feeling inside that it was something I was never meant to take part in. As I put more and more thought into it, I realized that getting high or drunk would be disrespectful to myself. First, such behavior would be obviously destructive to the body, and I had no reason to engage in self-destructive behavior...I was a pretty happy kid! Second, I figured people got high or drunk to fill a void in their lives. They did those things as a way to have fun or as a way to escape reality. I thought drinking, or smoking up, or whatever, would've been like telling myself that my life was somehow not good enough and incomplete. We all have voids in our lives, but I knew drugs/alcohol were only artificial fillers. I respected myself too much to embrace such a lifestyle.

That was sometime during my freshman year of high school when I made that realization, and I still believe now what I believed then. However, I didn't always call myself "straight-edge." In fact, I didn't claim straight-edge until my sophomore year of college - the reason being I used to be reserved about labelling myself. Also, I didn't really see any purpose in labelling myself "straight-edge," but as I became more conscious of the forces at work in the society that surrounded me, I saw so much injustice and inequality. I wanted to make a change and I understood the importance of educating others to bring about change. I knew there was no better way to teach others than by example, so I decided to take a stand against those things that contribute so much to the sickness of our society. My first action was claiming straight-edge. In straight-edge, I found a solid ideal to cling to that would let people know that I didn't approve of putting my mind to sleep, because there was too much to live for and too much to be done to spend one minute in a chemical haze. I think straight-edge allowed me to be a positive example for others and showed my peers what it meant to have a sense of self-worth. In retrospect, I think claiming myself straight-edge was a good decision, but after a while, I started to see a problem within the straight-edge movement. Sure, it's good to be sober and drug-free, but what use is sobriety without a goal, something higher to acheive with that sobriety? For many people, straight-edge becomes a reason to become puffed up and proud, as if being straight-edge is the highest goal to be reached in life. Well guess what? It's not! Anyway, I decided that because of this problem with the straight-edge movement, I would disassociate myself with it and give more time to living my Catholic faith, which, unlike straight-edge, has a clear goal: to love and serve God and neighbor.

As a sidenote, I don't think it's a good idea to do drugs or drink/smoke in excess, but it is not my place to look down upon someone if they choose to do these things. Obviously, there are forces at work in the lives of such people that have drawn them to partake in chemical pleasures, and it's wrong for me to assume that they make the decisions they make because they are immoral/weak/unintelligent/etc.

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