Dove with Branch
July 9, 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, My husband and I have three daughters with whom we enjoy a good relationship. One of them, however, has just bought a dog and wants to bring it over here when she visits. She knows the rules: no dogs are allowed in our home. Yet, she thinks we should allow her dog in our home. When I told her no, she said, "Fine! I just won't come over." What would you do? - Dottie in Veneta

Dear Dottie, Your daughter is throwing a mini-tantrum. As you probably know tantrums work as a strategy only as long as we allow them to work. Once you have set the rule you should support it. We don't need to be unreasonable or arbitrary when we set rules but if you see dogs as a problem you don't want to deal with then a threat is no reason for changing the rule. Giving in to someone's demands is not the way to solve life's problems - the Dean

Dear Dean, My husband thinks we should compromise and tell her it's okay to bring the dog but he needs to stay in the yard. I know she won't do that. I think it's about boundaries and she needs to respect ours, since she has known from childhood how we feel about having dogs in the house. - Dottie again

Dear Dottie, I don't see it just as a question of boundaries. It is also a question about negotiating with your husband. He is suggesting an alternate rule that he feels would be more effective. You should discuss and consider this change. It is not just about your wishes. It is also about what works best, and your husband's wishes as well. If you decide to stay with the rule think of it as standing in your truth. When we think of it as a boundary then we create resistance (anger) when anyone tries to violate it. Yes your daughter needs to respect your (and your husbands) wishes. - 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 refer to our legal system as an adversarial system. We call it an adversarial system because it is set up as a fight between two opposing parties. A trial is set up as a contest in which the best man wins. What we are seeking is the truth of the matter. A system where the most skilled combatant usually prevails is not the best path to the truth. Lawyers who always win do not win just because they choose clients who are always innocent.

In recent years we have introduced arbitration as a way of resolving legal disputes in business matters. When we use this method we are looking at the claims of both parties and trying to determine the solution that is most equitable for the particular situation. This encourages negotiation as this allows the parties to arrive at the same solution with less formalities, time, and cost.

Besides producing poorer results the adversarial system we now use produces more anger, and a waste of time and money for our society. It also makes the courts a tool that is used to resolve disputes just because of the power of money and advantage of delay. It is nice to provide work for lawyers, but society would be better served if we shifted from the adversarial system of justice to a method that puts more focus on the search for an appropriate resolution of the problems that must be resolved.

Creating a Peaceful New World
  World Peace

Most of our anger is caused because the real world does not live up to our expectation or our dreams. We keep insisting that the real world be a certain way. When it isn't we get angry. For example, you are in a nice restaurant having dinner and small children who are part of the family at the next table are being loud and disruptive, and that upsets you. You have an ideal view of how these children should act. You keep demanding that children act that way even though you have no power to control them. And you get angry when they don't do it your way.

We get angry when others in our culture - or outside of it - don't follow the cultural rules. A major role of anger in our culture is its policing function. For example, you expect people to stay in line and take their turn when checking out at the supermarket. Our society demands this behavior because if people don't follow these rules the less aggressive of us will have to wait much longer to purchase our goods and go home. When someone doesn't follow the rules and crowds to the front of the line, others often react by getting angry and shouting at them to get to the back of the line.

Although every culture's rules are subjective, and different segments of our society may have conflicting rules, anger is often 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 are even able to use the anger resulting from such differences to justify war.

Tips for Peaceful and Joyful Living
  Left Arrow

Monday: Think about the times you get angry when other people don't do things the way you think they should.

Tuesday: Think about the reasons they do things the way they do.

Wednesday: Think about the idea that people should make choices that are appropriate for them.

Thursday: Think about how we should accept the choices of others as appropriate for them.

Friday: Think about how other people and other societies have different ideas about what is proper.

Saturday: Realize that it is normal and acceptable for other people to have different ways of doing things.

Sunday: Resolve to accept the customs of others as appropriate for them.

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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