Dove with Branch
March 12, 2007 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, I have a friend that tells me that she doesn’t like the way I dress and wear my hair. I tell her that I don’t like to be criticized, but she says “What are friends for?” I don’t think that friends should criticize each other. What do you think? – Carol R

Dear Carol. I think that you think friends shouldn’t criticize each other – and that you look at her giving her opinion of how you look as criticism. If what someone thinks of you is of no value or hurtful to you then you will want to avoid them – or get over it. Many think it is really great to have someone they can trust to give them an honest opinion. If I had a friend who was doing this to be helpful I would appreciate it very much. If what they said upset me, then I would try to examine and change how I feel about it. Friends sometimes bring out our insecurities. If they are doing it in a loving way then we can be thankful. – the Dean

Dear Dean, My daughter- in-law does not like me. She will not invite me to her home and will not even take calls from me. I have two grandchildren that I have never even seen because she won’t allow my son to bring them to my home. My son has chosen to abide by her wishes even though I know it hurts him very much. She won’t allow him to call or write. She won’t even let me know what I have done to upset her. What can I do to make her let me see my grandchildren? – Lonely Grandmother

Dear Lonely Grandmother, If she refuses to talk to you and you are unable to talk to your son as well, then gracious acceptance of the situation is probably your best bet in the long run. Perhaps time will change things. Have great compassion for your son and do not make things more difficult for him. For whatever reason, he has chosen to abide by his wife’s wishes. It was most likely not an easy choice for him. Try not to add to his suffering by showing your pain to him. Telling him that you are understanding without saying more would be a great gift to him. - 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

It is a part of our nature to be violent. It is also a part of our nature to be angry, fearful, controlling, cheating, greedy, and all those things we associate with the unpleasant world that many of us see ourselves as living in. It is also a part of our nature to be loving, caring, peaceful, sharing and joyful. We humans have the free will to be whichever of these things we choose to be at any given moment. In any given instance we always choose whichever of these things that our beliefs tell us we should choose. We choose what we do because we learn and believe that it is what we should do. We get angry simply because we should get angry in a certain situation. If we had learned to look at this same event or circumstances differently, we would have responded differently.

What if instead of judging each event by how we believe it should be, we change to judging it by the results it produces? If we look at things this way, then when things don’t turn out the way we want we are not left with a feeling of being violated! Instead we would spend our energy looking for a new way to respond to the event that is in line with our greater goal of living peacefully and in harmony with others.

This is something that will not happen overnight, but can be and must be learned if we are to live in a peaceful world. The system of trying to make us all think and act the same has been tried and failed. This new way of thinking is the hope we have of making life joyful for all.

Creating a Peaceful New World
  World Peace

Have you ever asked yourself, “Why can’t I forgive that person?” “Why can’t I forgive myself?” or “Why can’t I let go of the anger and forgive?” We can always come up with a reason why we should not forgive. The most common one is: “It was their fault. They deserve my anger.” (Or, “I’m to blame – how can I ever forgive myself?”) Our society teaches us that people should pay for their mistakes, whether they are intentional, or not. This comes from the ancient idea of “an eye for an eye.” We have been taught that when we are wronged, we must punish the wrongdoer, and that; “Such behavior just cannot be tolerated – you must pay for it,” and “The guilty must be caught and punished.”

Raised with such societal beliefs about guilt and punishment, we think we must make others suffer as punishment for having offended us. We believe we must return the hurt to get even. But thinking in this way produces an emotional response rather than an effective reasoned response that allows us to maximize our life experience. We would be more effective if our primary focus was on preventing more of this kind of behavior instead of on making someone pay for his or her mistakes.

Someone may have killed a loved one of ours in an unfortunate automobile accident. Regardless of whether it was carelessness, or not even the other person’s fault, we find it difficult to forgive them. If you cannot forgive, that person now has the power over you. He is controlling your life in a very negative way. As long as you hold the anger, you are continuing to be hurt. This is a bit like being sick and saying to the doctor, “I want to keep this pain, so please don’t make me well.” The lesson is that forgiveness is for your own benefit and has nothing to do with what the other person did and whether you are letting them off the hook or not.

Tips for Peaceful and Joyful Living
  Left Arrow

Monday: Today I celebrate the things that unify us.

Tuesday: Today I pray for peace in my world.

Wednesday: Today I affirm that there will be peace in my world.

Thursday: Today I write a loving note to someone.

Friday: Today I offer peaceful words and actions.

Saturday: Today I practice nonviolence.

Sunday: Today I thank others for their peaceful words and actions.

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