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Craig Wiesner
Craig Wiesner
Craig Wiesner is the co-founder of Reach And Teach, the peace and social justice learning company.

Sticks, Stones AND Names Can Damage the Spirit


by: on February 18th, 2014 | Comments Off

Words HurtDr. Warren J. Blumenfeld shared a post that struck a very loud chord, loud enough that with his permission we’re sharing it here. Dr. Blumenfeld is one of a group of wonderful people who have reviewed the pre-release version of Speaking Out: Queer Youth in Focus, a powerful photo-essay book by Rachelle Lee Smith which our teams at Reach And Teach and PM Press are publishing this Fall. Dr. Blumenfeld’s experience, as described in this post, is all too familiar, not just to those of us who lived back in the day, but today.

Despite incredible progress for GLBTQ rights and increasing levels of understanding and acceptance, taunting, bullying, name-calling, and other hurtful behaviors are still epedemic in our culture. Dr. Blumenfeld alerts us to an article in the Feb 17 2014 issue of Pediatrics, in which a Boston Children’s Hospital study clearly and compellingly shows the long-term impact on quality of life bullying can have, especially bullying that occurs over long periods of time.

We’re sharing Dr. Blumenfeld’s post in the hopes that it will spark a desire in anyone reading it to make a difference. After his post we share a YouTube video of a song called “Don’t Laugh At Me” which we hope people will use to start a conversation with children AND adults in their lives. Talk about the pain that our words, laughing AT someone, teasing, bullying can cause. If each one of us takes the time to find a way to talk about this with someone, we may be able to start to make a real difference. Boys and girls shouldn’t come home from school crying, or be afraid to go to school, or go to school with stomach aches because they know how bad it is going to be. We can make a difference.

Thanks Dr. Blumenfeld for sharing your story, and thank you Mosaic Project, for providing a song and an entire curriculum that can be used to truly make a difference.


You Must Remember This, A Kiss Is Just A Kiss, An Executive Order Is NOT A Law


by: on January 18th, 2014 | 4 Comments »

Photo courtesy of WhiteHouse.gov

YesterdayPresident Obama spoke about much-needed reforms to how the NSA and other intelligence agencies target, gather, store, sift through, and disseminate “intelligence” information. As president, he can issue executive orders which must be obeyed by those within his chain of command, and that gives him significant power to change the way things are done.

That’s very nice, but those executive orders are NOT laws, and they can be set aside faster than the blink of an eye by this president or any president in the future.

The Constitution that President Obama mentions in his speech, which guarantees our freedoms, created three branches of government, a balance of powers, to protect those freedoms, and those branches have not been doing much since 2001. Meanwhile, the executive branch has been going wild.


Wow, in 15 Minutes I Could Save a Lot! ObamaCare


by: on October 3rd, 2013 | Comments Off

Last week, while listening to the doom and gloom about what would happen if the Affordable Care Act wasn’t stopped dead in its tracks, and the other gloom and doom about what would happen if Congress failed to pass a “Continuing Resolution” to keep the government open, I had a few minutes to spare and decided to see what ObamaCare might do for me. Spoiler alert, there’s neither gloom nor doom in what I discovered when I visited Covered California at coveredca.com

I spent some time looking at the small business pages, because Derrick Kikuchi and I are both married AND we own a small business. We’ve been covered by a small business plan through Kaiser and can continue that coverage if we’d like. If we hire one more person we can get that same coverage, with tax credits thrown in to help us pay for it, through Covered California. Despite rhetoric from those who oppose the Affordable Care Act, there’s actually an incentive for us to hire someone as a Pa and Pa business! But, for now, with just the two of us, I needed to look at the possibilities of individual/family coverage.


We Know Your Secret… Or Do We?


by: on September 26th, 2013 | 4 Comments »

Creative Commons by AJ Cann

Around the 4th week of Basic Training I was polishing my shoes when our “TI” (Training Instructor) yelled out “Wiesner! Get your ass over to building xxx… something about your security clearance.” Trembling, I headed out the door. Had they somehow figured out that I was gay? Was this the end of a short but quite exceptional 4-week career? On track to be a “Cryptologic Linguist,” I needed a Top Secret security clearance to eventually do the work I’d joined up to do. They’d told me that the investigation would take up to six months, allowing me to get through half of language school (Korean) before heading to the next phase of training that would require that clearance. Like NSA-contractor turned leaker-in-chief Edward Snowden and Naval Yard mass-murderer Aaron Alexis, as someone who would hold a national security clearance the government needed to make sure there were no skeletons in my closet (no pun intended) and that I was trustworthy to know key government secrets and have access to highly secure areas.

Unlike Edward Snowden and Aaron Alexis, the government actually did investigate me.


Multifaith Voices for Peace And Justice Says NO to Bombing Syria


by: on September 4th, 2013 | 11 Comments »

I am on the steering committee of a grassroots organization in the Bay Area and was asked to work on a statement about the situation in Iraq with my friend, the Rev. Dr. Diana Gibson, who is currently teaching at Santa Clara University. As you can probably already guess, we are opposed to U.S. military intervention in Syria. This message is addressed to you, the people of America who have an opportunity to make your voices heard.

As people of faith from diverse traditions, Multifaith Voices for Peace and Justice joins with a growing number of faith organizations and people of good will around the globe in condemning chemical weapons use in Syria or anywhere, and insisting that the world community, in particular our own United States government, respond to this tragedy using diplomatic and political tools, not military intervention. We implore Congress to refuse to authorize any military action against Syria. Bombing and killing Syrians to send a message that bombing and killing Syrians is wrong makes absolutely no sense.

U.S. military interventions in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan over the last 60 years make it clear that war as a solution to world problems is not the answer. By denying the president the authority to use military force against Syria, the United States Congress could bring us one step closer to the end of senseless war.


How Does It Feel To Be Singled Out? Reflection on Trayvon Martin


by: on July 16th, 2013 | 3 Comments »

Credit: Creative Commons.

You’re driving somewhere, in a perfectly normal state of mind, and suddenly, you see someone following you… after a few blocks, you see flashing lights behind you… police lights… how does it feel? Your heart races, even if you’ve done absolutely nothing wrong. You start to perspire. You pray that they’re not after you. You slow down and realize, with dread, that yes… for some reason it is you they want.

I have to suspect that a vast majority of adults in the United States know that feeling. White, Black, of Latino descent, Asian, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, male, female… we all know what it feels like in those moments before we find out why we’ve been singled out.

Now… imagine how it feels when that happens all the time. Imagine what it is like to drive while brown, walk while black, or in my case as a 17 year old, drive in a car that didn’t look like it belonged in the neighborhoods where I drove.

I haven’t fully processed the verdict in the case against George Zimmerman but one thing is clear to me, no one should have to live with the constant fear of being stopped, pulled over, followed, beaten up, or in the extreme, killed, just because of who they are or how they look. The question is, now that George Zimmerman has been found not guilty, and for an important moment the nation’s attention is on this issue, what do we do about it?


Follow the Money – Who pays for cost for massive NSA phone/data mining?


by: on June 8th, 2013 | 6 Comments »

My husband and I own an independent bookstore and one of the things I’ve always prepared myself for is what I would do if I ever got handed one of those “National Security Letters,” demanding information about what products our customers bought. The PATRIOT Act allows the government to demand business records if their need for those records involves some kind of terrorist investigation and people receiving those letters not only have to obey them, but also have to remain silent about having received one.

Now that the news has broken that Verizon has been turning over ALL U.S. and international phone call records for at least seven years, and that U.S. and British intelligence agencies have also been mining Internet data, one question that always niggled at me came up to the surface the other night at dinner. As is often the case, Derrick is the one who asked “Someone’s got to be making money off of this. Who pays for all the work involved in compiling, storing, turning over, and sifting through those records?”


What Price Would You Accept for Your Sons? Two Afghan Boys Killed by NATO Troops


by: on March 14th, 2013 | 2 Comments »

From OurJourneyToSmile.com

With this weekend marking the ten years since the war in Iraq started, this terrible reminder of the ongoing tragedy in Afghanistan saddened me today. Two young Afghan boys were killed by NATO troops in a helicopter as the children walked behind their donkeys, gathering firewood. According to reports, Australia has accepted responsibility for accidentally killing the children and is planning to pay their families compensation. What price do you pay for the lives of two pre-teen children?

There is no answer to that question. Their lives are priceless. Each human life is precious and as we gather this weekend at an Eyes Wide Open display in Palo Alto, we’ll carry the grief of countless innocent lives lost in this ongoing war.

One thing that gives us great hope is the response by Afghan Peace Volunteers, children, youth, and adults who have come together to say NO to violence and yes to peace.


Getting Centered: A Musing by Jim Burklo


by: on February 12th, 2013 | 1 Comment »

Source: Wikipedia.org

Yesterday a bit of work stuff threw me for quite a loop and left me feeling like the world and life were in complete tumult. Then, this morning, after the storm had somewhat subsided, Jim Burklo’s latest “musing” arrived and I thought “Gee, if only I had known about dorodangos and gombocs yesterday!”

So, just in case my friends at Tikkun Daily don’t know about dorodangos and gombocs, here is Rev. Jim Burklo’s latest musing.


A School by Any Other Name Still Stinks (SOA/WHINSEC)


by: on January 25th, 2013 | 5 Comments »

This morning I received an email from Father Roy Bourgeois, inviting folks to join him on his upcoming delegation to El Salvador in March. His letter sparked some memories which prompted this posting. I’ll share his invitation to El Salvador at the end of this reflection.

The image on the left is the future home of the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC), formerly known as the School of the Americas (SOA), though you wouldn’t know that if you read through the organization’s “history” on its web site.

A little bit about my history first, though.

In 1989, two years after leaving the United States Air Force, I found myself lovingly embraced by a new community of people at First Presbyterian Church in Palo Alto. Among the many peace and social justice issues the church was involved with, the congregation had deep connections with Salvadoran refugees during the civil war in El Salvador and had even sent delegations to El Salvador and Honduras during the war to get a feet on the ground view of what was really going on there.

At a potluck gathering one evening I was chatting with a few church folks when someone brought up torture and assassination (not your typical church pot-luck conversation, unless you happen to be a sanctuary church like First Pres.) and how terrible it was that the United States military was training Salvadoran soldiers on how to commit these atrocious acts. “That can’t possibly be true!” I interjected.

During my eight years in the Air Force (1979 – 1987) the message we got about torture and assassination was unambiguous. We were not only absolutely prohibited from participating in such acts but we were required to report any attempt to encourage such actions. Presidents Ford and Carter had issued executive orders including these very clear words: “No person employed by or acting on behalf of the United States Government shall engage in, or conspire to engage in, assassination.” And, during the Reagan years while I served as an intelligence analyst and trainer, we were reminded every year that the executive orders were still in effect.

Engaging in assassination or torture were clearly, or so I was taught, violations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) and anyone who participated in such acts, or who had knowledge of such acts and didn’t report them, would be prosecuted. Period. End of story. Right? Well….. it turns out……