Dove with Branch
March 26, 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, What Betty in Atlanta (Ask the Dean 2/12) describes could constitute sexual harassment, if the co-worker has been asked to stop telling dirty jokes and continues. So this sounds like a legal issue to me. I disagree with you having her approach the situation as her problem and not his. It is very much his problem, one that could involve a very ugly law suit and possibly effect his continued employment. By firmly impressing upon him the necessity to stop immediately, she could be saving him his job. – B in Ohio

Dear B in Ohio, It is Betty’s problem because she wants the activity to stop and it has not. It becomes the co-worker’s problem when someone takes action to stop him, and he has not. Betty has the concern of liking this person and desiring a pleasant work environment. From my experience as a lawyer I have learned that legal solutions should be used only as a last resort. Legal solutions create stress and disharmony to all parties and are expensive both in emotions and resources. The legal system is adversarial by nature. You desire harmony in the workplace. I recommend exhausting all efforts to find harmony before resorting to legal solutions. – the Dean

Dear Dean, Tell Betty (2/12) to lighten up. Everybody else likes a good off-color joke. Tell her to learn to enjoy it. In my office I hear more off-color jokes from the women than I do from the men. Learn to take life a little less seriously and enjoy it more. If most people enjoy that why do you want to be the wet blanket that puts a damper on all the fun and camaraderie in the office? – Leah in Rockford

Dear Leah, If Betty could do that it would be fine. But Betty doesn’t want to do that, and the laws of our society support her right not to be subjected to that kind of behavior. If our society has given her that right we must honor it. But even more than that, we should honor the fact she has a problem with that behavior and not submit her to it. It is not necessary for anyone to tell off color jokes to accomplish the mission of the workplace. It is not loving to subject anyone to behavior they find objectionable, legal or not. – 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

Periodically I write about how we should make our political and social decisions with a consideration of all points of view. In our government we have single party rule. When the parties are more evenly divided; or in a spirit of cooperation, we talk about using a bipartisanship approach. The bipartisanship approach however considers only the views of the two parties. I believe we should develop the transpartisanship approach to government. Transpartisanship recognizes the existence and validity of many points of view. It advocates a constructive dialogue aimed at considering all points of view and arriving at solutions that meet the needs of everyone.

Transpartisianship is being increasingly employed by companies, universities, non-profit, and citizen groups for finding resolution to problems. If we are going to be an inclusive society that lives together in peace, we would benefit greatly if we would employ this concept at all levels of government. We can benefit from this concept in politics, culture, economics and other aspects of our society as well.

We can learn to share all viewpoints openly and honestly. Disagreements over issues need not undermine consensus if all parties are willing to search for an answer that accommodates all points of view. We will be able to find previously unanticipated solutions that can satisfy everyone.

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 upset about it. We can assert our boundaries and refuse to accept the other person’s position, without getting angry or upset. 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.

Do we want to be happy, or do we 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 cannot 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 our negative emotions or experience happiness and peace of mind. The more we accept the other person’s reality as being authentic, the less upset we become.

As we become more accepting, we stop demanding that things go a certain way. It is part of our nature to want to give and receive love. When we demand things be a certain way, we are not giving love, and we seldom receive love in return when we don’t give it. We get even less love when we give anger in return. Accept that there are many vantage points from which to look at the same thing. You can choose to change your way of looking at things to a way that is in line with happiness. The choice is yours.

Tips for Peaceful and Joyful Living
  Left Arrow

Monday: Today I choose peace above all else.

Tuesday: Today I choose to be a peacekeeper.

Wednesday: Today I make peace my priority.

Thursday: Today I bless rather than condemn others.

Friday: Today I celebrate the positive things in my world.

Saturday: Today I cherish peace, giving it freely to others.

Sunday: Today my heart sings “peace begins with me."

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