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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.

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……


Wonder – A Book That Transforms the World


by: on January 12th, 2013 | Comments Off

WonderWonder – A Book That Transforms the World
Written by R.J. Paclacio
Review by Craig Wiesner / Reach And Teach

It’s okay, I know I’m weird-looking, take a look, I don’t bite. Hey, the truth is, if a wookie started going to school all of a sudden, I’d be curious, I’d probably stare a bit!

When he walked into the room, I couldn’t help myself. I stared, just for a moment. He looked so different from all the other kids in the auditorium. Then, a few teen girls sitting behind me started whispering to each other. “Oh My God… Look at him!” One of them said.


Time to End Indefinite Detention


by: on November 29th, 2012 | Comments Off

KorematsuHaving served in the United States Air Force for eight years, I’m a person who takes the oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States quite seriously. I also served in an intelligence role, and our training at the time emphasized the limits under which we operated, limits specifically in place to help protect American citizens, and especially to preserve their freedoms. The idea that our government thinks it can lock an American up based on “suspicion” that he or she somehow “supported” an alleged “terrorist” organization just doesn’t seem very constitutional to me! Yet our current law allows just that. Senator Dianne Feinstein and others in the Senate are trying to do something about indefinite detention and I’m hoping they’ll get enough support from Americans across the political spectrum to remove this affront to freedom from the next Defense Authorization bill. Perhaps they could call it a Korematsu amendment.


Yes Mitt. People do die because they have no health insurance.


by: on October 11th, 2012 | 6 Comments »

On Wednesday October 10th, in a conversation with the editorial board of the Columbus Dispatch, Mitt Romney said “We don’t have people that become ill, who die in their apartment because they don’t have insurance.”

Sit with that quote a minute and think.

Really? Beyond knowing in your gut that we do, in fact, have people who die in their apartments, homes, backyards, on the streets, in shelters, at soup kitchens, and in all sorts of places, in part, because they don’t have access to adequate health care, Mitt Romney is missing other parts of the nightmare that is, for 50 million Americans, the reality of not having health insurance.


Conversations Across America: Flagstaff Arizona


by: on October 10th, 2012 | Comments Off

Our friend Julie McDonald is traveling across the country by Greyhound bus to talk to real people about their lives and how their life experiences and current situations are impacting how they feel about the upcoming election.

She had conversations across America by scooter in 2008 and her storytelling from those conversations touched thousands of lives.

Yesterday, Julie watched as mothers put their children onto buses heading to Nogales and then had a conversation about immigration policy with an amazing woman who works at that station every day.

Here’s a link to that story, which includes an amazing audio interview.

I hope once you hear this first interview you’ll decide to follow Julie as she continues her trek across the county, to bring us more stories.

Soulful Citizenship – A Musing by Jim Burklo


by: on October 3rd, 2012 | 1 Comment »

As I was sitting here in our shop, stocking the shelves while Debate Bingo cards print in the background (yes – we’re going to play debate bingo tonight), I spotted a new email from Rev. Jim Burklo, his latest musing. This is one I simply had to share. He starts with the question “How can we put faith into how we vote?” Read on for his answer.