Dove with Branch
August 14, 2006 Insights From the Dean of Peace
Notes from the Dean's Desk
Hello! - Dean Van Leuven

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Ask the Dean?
Dean Van Leuven   Global Struggle

Dear Dean, Since Dad died my mom has been living with my sister. She provides her with a private bedroom, and shares the rest of the house. Mom pays her over a thousand dollars a month for board and room. This seems like way too much, especially since mom helps with the household chores. Mom also has helped pay for improvements to the house. This seems very unfair of my sister. Do you think I should talk to my sister about this? – Marta in Salem

Dear Marta, No. It might be appropriate to have a discussion with your mother to determine if that is what she wants to do, and can afford it. If your mother finds a problem with the situation try to find a way to help. If she is happy with it, leave it be. If you feel she can’t afford it, you could explore that issue with her. If she is happy and can afford giving money to your sister, even if you feel it leaves you with less, should be none of your concern. Let mom enjoy life and spend money the way she wants. – the Dean

Dear Dean, My friends invited us to a birthday party by a written invitation requesting “no gag gifts please.” My husband wants to take gag gifts anyway. What do you think? Gag gifts are meant for fun. Would it be improper to take them even when we have been asked not to? – Fran in Baltimore

Dear Fran, Yes it would be inappropriate to take gag gifts, unless you know that the request itself is only a gag. It is an unusual request but if the host feels strongly about it for some reason, the loving thing to do is to honor their requests. Do not take gag gifts to teach them a lesson about lightening up. It may not be appreciated. The purpose of the party is to honor them and have fun. Do not try to use it for your own idea of “higher purpose” by taking a gag gift. - the Dean

I welcome questions and/or comments from our readers. Send your Ask the Dean questions or comments to: P.O. Box 535, Elmira, OR 97437, or visit to submit by e-mail.

Law, Politics & Society ... As I see them
  Globe Magnify Glass

Some people look at history to find out how things were so that we will not repeat them again. Some even think that because events happened before that they are bound to happen again. They think of our society as flawed, and condemned to keep repeating the same mistakes over and over again.

When I look at history I see growth and change. We see so many things that have changed. For example, the right to vote, equal rights, and democratic government. There has been great movement around the world in those directions, even in our lifetime. We are at a place that never existed in our history. I do not see us going back to the way it was. We now have universal education, which I see as the great springboard for change. We will not march back toward ignorance. We will not burn the books!

What I envision, is that we will be dealing with new inequalities and issues today that we even now accept as reasonable. We will grow more intolerant of war, individual power, and personal greed, among other things. Let’s work together to bring on changes rather than just resisting them. We would like to be in a “better place” than we are now. Only change will make that possible.

Creating a Peaceful New World
  World Peace

We can accept disagreement without being disagreeable in return. We don’t have to require that we be treated well. We can accept the way other people treat us, in the sense that we don’t get angry about it. We can assert our boundaries and refuse to accept the other person’s position without being angry.

If we believe in our self and our own truths, then we can let the other person have their own truths, and just refuse to be affected by them. If another person upsets us frequently, we always have the option of no longer having that person in our life.

Do you want to be happy, or do you want to be right? Whenever we are attached to being right, we are convinced the other person is wrong and we are right. As long as we can’t accept the idea that maybe they are also right, or at least realize that it just doesn’t matter, we can’t be free of anger or experience happiness and peace of mind. The more we accept the other person’s reality as being authentic, the less angry we become.

Tips for Peaceful and Joyful Living
  Left Arrow

Monday: I decide not to be upset when others disagree with me.

Tuesday: I do not get angry at what other people say to me.

Wednesday: I listen to what other people say without being upset when I disagree.

Thursday: I am comfortable when other people express beliefs that disagree with mine.

Friday: It is not important that the other person agrees with me.

Saturday: I do not dislike people just because they disagree with me.

Sunday: It is more important to be happy than it is to be right.

Dean Van Leuven is a psychologist, conducts workshops and is the author of A Peaceful New World and many other books dealing with quality of life issues. Contact him on the web at:

Additional Notes

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Dean Of Peace | P.O. Box 535 | Elmira | OR | 97437