Dove with Branch
August 11, 2008 Insights From the Dean of Peace
Notes from the Dean's Desk

Dear Peacemaker,


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Ask the Dean?
Dean Van Leuven   Global Struggle

Dear Dean, My older sister and I have a terrible relationship. She wants to come back into my life. I now only see her at family gatherings by my choice and for my safety. The last time I let her into my life she berated and belittled me for 7 hours on a road trip with our 15 and 11 year old niece and nephew. That was seven years ago and our large family and my 85+ year old parents would like to see us reconcile. A year ago I found myself alone with her and she spent an hour spewing hatred toward my handicapped friend which I thought was an odd choice of topic for someone who tells the family she is reaching out but I am the resistant one. What ground rules should I lay down and what can I prepare myself with if I do attempt this so our time together doesn't devolve into anger? I know she has the right to be who she is; so how do I spend time with her and not have it affect me? PS My brothers have always said that I am too sensitive (as if there could be such a thing or that it is not a great trait) and they called me - "Sarah Bernhardt"

Dear "Sarah," Your sister is just the way she is. Your relationship with her depends on your ability to be reasonably comfortable with her anger; or to find a way so that you no longer experience it. You obviously care about your family and would like to get along, thus you have created a dilemma for yourself. You must make a choice. Possible choices include: 1. Learning how to not to be affected by her anger. 2. Getting her not to display her anger in your presence. 3. No longer being around her. 4. Being with her only when there is someone else present to deflect the anger. 5. No longer spending any time with her. Only you know which answer is best for you. If you can accomplish the first suggestion it may provide other great benefits in your life as well. Consider taking responsibility for your reaction to her anger and seeking some understanding of how to change your reaction from a counselor. My book "Life Without Anger" will be helpful in allowing you to be able to spend acceptable, and perhaps even pleasurable time with your sister; as well as derive other benefits in your life. - 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 humans have a great power of rationalization. We have the ability to see a particular event or set of facts in a way that supports our position. We find this of such great value that we even have debate teams in school where we learn and compete at this skill. We think that it is more important for our point of view to prevail than it is to determine the facts about something. The points that don't agree with our view we twist or ignore.

Why do we do this? I believe it is because we live in a world where power is more important than truth. He who has the power gets all the "goodies" regardless of the truth of the matter. That is the way we have created our society. Because of this, the power of persuasion is an important skill in our society. When we have this viewpoint, prevailing over others is more important than being at peace with others.

If we are going to create a peaceful world society, we must learn to replace this old way of thinking with a viewpoint that both searches for the truth and respects the viewpoint of others. When we are all trying to prevail over others, when we are not willing to accept less, there is no possibility of peace. Peace cannot be obtained through power! Subjugation is not peace! That is why so many of us think that peace is not possible. We can have peace only when we are willing to accept not having it "our way" all of the time. Change our goal and we can find peace. As it is sometimes said, we need to shift from the love of power to the power of love.

Creating a Peaceful New World
  World Peace

As we become more accepting, we stop demanding that things go a certain way. It is part of our nature to give and to receive love. When we demand things in a certain way, we are not giving love, and we seldom get love in return when we do.

Accept that there are many vantage points from which to look at the same thing. You can change your way of looking at things to a way that is in line with happiness. The choice is yours.

Perhaps you're saying to yourself, "He is the one who makes me angry. I need to get him to change." This attitude is guaranteed to produce anger. If you can't accept your mate or your colleague or your child the way he or she is, your relationship is not going to be a happy one. There is something we must do in order to have a rewarding relationship. Choose to let go of every goal where your peace of mind depends on other people changing. Learn to think, "I love you just the way you are."

Tips for Peaceful and Joyful Living
  Left Arrow

Monday: I choose to be accepting of the thinking and ways of others.

Tuesday: I understand that the beliefs of others are different from my own.

Wednesday: I realize that if I want others to like me I must like them.

Thursday: I realize that every problem has many positive solutions.

Friday: I desire happiness in my relationship with others.

Saturday: I offer happiness to others by respecting their beliefs.

Sunday: Think, "I love you just the way you are."

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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I welcome your suggestion or comments. If you have a question that you would like addressed in the Ask the Dean? column feel free to send them to

I welcome your suggestion or comments. If you have a question that you would like addressed in the Ask the Dean? column feel free to send them to

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