Dove with Branch
September 25, 2006 Insights From the Dean of Peace
Notes from the Dean's Desk
Dear Craig,
Welcome! - Dean Van Leuven

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Ask the Dean?
Dean Van Leuven   Global Struggle

Dear Dean, My mother-in- law pays more attention to my husband’s sister’s children than she pays to ours. She brags about how well they are doing in school and sports in our presence. She even asks why our children don’t go out for sports. My sister-in-law’s children seem to do things that draw attention to themselves. I am embarrassed for my children. How can I get her to stop doing this? - Unrecognized Daughter-in- law

Dear Unrecognized Daughter- in-law,First of all do not be embarrassed for your children. Life is not some contest where we judge the successes of our children against others. Our children should grow up to be who they want to be. Life is not an inter-family popularity contest. Also you should not expect your mother-in-law to like her grandchildren equally. It is difficult to change her behavior and much easier to change the way you feel about it. Help your children understand that their self-esteem doesn’t depend on others approval. – the Dean

Dear Dean, Last year my father died. We were never very close and he always taught me to be strong and accept difficulties in life. The problem is that I have never been able to cry about his loss even though I miss him. This makes me feel very guilty about my feelings, and often causes me to be depressed. - Bill in Seattle

Dear Bill,We are told that people should express grief about the loss of a loved one. When we don’t, we feel guilty because we think there is something wrong with us. The way you personally feel results from the way you were raised. Your father taught you to be emotionally strong. If that is the way you feel accept it as good. The question should not be why you can’t grieve. It should be why you are so upset when you don’t. Find the answer that brings you peace, not the one that meets your “obligations” to the world. - 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

We have developed a way of thinking in our society which I refer to as partisanship. This means that we choose up sides, and then do our thinking on the premise that whatever supports our side is what is right. When we make the decision of which side we are going to support we tend to give up our own independent thinking and accept the thinking of the group as our own. We no longer trust our self enough to do our own thinking. We agree because belonging seems important to us.

This also means we resist whatever the other side says. We no longer try to understand their position. We no longer seek compromise. We feel we must prevail because we are right, and they are wrong. It is like being elated when our team wins the World Series – and depressed when they don’t. We forget it is just a friendly game. We support it with our emotional life.

If we are aware we have this tendency, then we can pay attention and catch ourselves when we have this feeling. We are not going to be able to live well together, unless we are as caring and friendly with the fans of the opposing team just as we are with our own fans. Give up the idea that the other team - the other fans - the other country - the other religion - the other society, are the bad guys.

Creating a Peaceful New World
  World Peace

Although every culture’s rules are subjective, and different segments of our society may have conflicting rules, anger is employed against those who go against the rules, in order to coerce them into conforming. And because many of us refuse to accept cultural differences as natural and desirable, national governments often use the anger resulting from such differences to justify war.

Sometimes we get angry because expressing anger is an acceptable attribute in our family of origin. Of course one’s family has a huge effect on how one deals with conflict. In some families, fighting is seen as bad. In others, you don’t even count unless you can stand up and fight for yourself.

We not only learn our emotional style from our family, we also acquire the unique set of values our family holds. How our anger gets triggered – and how we express it – are closely tied to the lessons we learned as we were growing up. We develop a belief system and then get angry when things don’t go according to our beliefs.

Tips for Peaceful and Joyful Living
  Left Arrow

Monday: I think about how other peoples' beliefs are different than my own.

Tuesday: I think about how I learned my beliefs as I was growing up.

Wednesday: I picture myself living in different families and learning different beliefs.

Thursday: I picture myself living in other countries and learning different beliefs.

Friday: I picture myself understanding and accepting the beliefs of others.

Saturday: I respect the beliefs of others as appropriate for them.

Sunday: I no longer reject people based on their differences.

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