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  • PrestonRoeschlein

Silence. A Key Ingredient for The Proliferation of Violence.

Updated: Mar 6

There are a few things in my lifetime that I’ve either read, heard, seen or felt, that have shaken me to the core. Things that have cut through the noise like a forty-foot machete and left me forever marked, and forever changed. I remember where I was when I experienced them, and I remember how I felt at the time.

And for those who may consider that my depression and despondency were the result of my social media use, sure, fair enough. But, I also had spent two months off of the news, and off of social media to ‘give myself a break’. Unfortunately in this instance, ‘out of sight, out of mind’ doesn’t always work as it should. Ignorance isn’t always bliss—despite the departure from the screens—when you see the sunshine beam from your baby boy’s smile in the morning, and you can’t help but think of the THOUSANDS of lifeless little bodies in Gaza and the parents robbed of their very own sunshine. Yes, I’m extremely grateful for what I have, but to know what I have is also to know what others have had ripped away from them in what is clearly the systematic slaughter of an entire population.

Around November of last year, when it was very clear that this was a genocide, I had spoken to a few colleagues about posts we had made about the atrocities committed by the Israeli government in Gaza. Some spoke about the hateful messages they had received in response to their posts. Some were told that they themselves were antisemitic for speaking out against the slaughter of women and children by the IDF. Some were worried that they’d lose clients or work over condemning a genocide. Shit, Melissa Barrera had just lost her role in the Scream Franchise over it, and she was a fucking movie star. So they went silent.

I had always considered myself an outspoken advocate for human rights. I had started Icarian Airlines years ago as a means to express my thoughts and feelings on social and human rights issues that were important to me through art. Thirty-Seven Centigrade partially derives its name from the fact that it’s also the temperature of the human body; something that we all share. Something that binds us. My long-term goal for Thirty-Seven Centigrade has been to tell stories that bridge hearts. To create a better tomorrow for all humans. To use stories to move us into a more equitable, caring, and just world. Because stories have power to help humans. Speaking out has the power to help humanity.

It reminded me of moments in time, like the sweltering summer of 2020, when hearts backed human rights in these borders, and we took to the streets and every platform available to vehemently protest the murder of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. We spoke so loud that billion dollar corporations were forced to hear us. And whether their responses were performative or not, I’d like to say that differences were made. Previously unaware people became more aware, and some were becoming actors and advocating for social justice. We forced people and companies who didn’t give a shit to care because apathy and inaction would affect their bottom-line. Did we solve all of our issues? Absolutely fucking not, but we rallied the troops to do battle for a better and more equitable today and tomorrow. We drove change.

The answer is ‘to speak’. The answer is use my voice, my words, my pen, my camera, my art, and whatever else I can to speak out for the people under siege. Because, while I alone am never going to stop two giants from carrying out a genocide, my hope is that the chorus of millions and millions of voices across this country can drive change like we have before. Pressure leaders, pressure organizations, boycott, and in the words of Killer Mike, “plot, plan, strategize, organize, and mobilize.” I can’t force you to care about 30,000 slaughtered in a genocide. I can’t force you to care that 25,000 of them were women and children murdered with bombs paid for by your tax dollars. I can’t make you care about humans perishing from starvation while food remains blocked on trucks just a few miles away. But if you do, I’m simply asking you to say something about it. Loudly.

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