Dove with Branch
August 25, 2008 Insights From the Dean of Peace
Notes from the Dean's Desk


For my readers in Oregon: I will be giving three workshops on emotional intelligence and it's applications in the schools and the workplace at the Conference on Nonviolence held at the University of Oregon on September 11th to 14th (see for more information) Also I will be giving a workshop on Parenting Without Anger at the conference. Marshall Rosenberg is the keynote speaker at the conference. Hope to see you there!

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Ask the Dean?
Dean Van Leuven   Global Struggle

Dear Dean, I live in Everett and I work in Seattle. The work is good, but the commute is horrible. Sometimes it takes over two hours to get home from work. My family is suffering because I arrive home late and in a bad mood. Do you have any suggestions? - Carl in WA

Dear Carl, The basic rule in dealing with life's problems is - accept it, change it, leave it, accept it, or experience misery. You have gone directly to the last step. Go back to the second step and look for solutions such as moving, changing your or your family's hours, or working at home. If that doesn't solve your problem then consider finding another employer or work that will fulfill your needs. If that doesn't work find a way to accept the commute. Perhaps you can find some way to enjoy this period such as listening to educational or music CDs, taking a course, or writing a book. For the well being of both you and your family find a way to avoid the misery. - the Dean

Dear Dean, When I was young my stepfather abused me sexually. This was never dealt with or reported to authorities and my mother still lives with him. The problem is that I am still greatly disturbed by this and it is messing up my life. I have no money for counseling. What do you suggest? - Annette in OH

Dear Annette, You can afford counseling because there are places where you can find free counseling. Check with your church, city or county offices or simply look in the newspaper or phone book for what support services are available in your area. As long as you are unable to forgive and feel victimized by the event you will not be able to enjoy a happy present life. What happened is in the past, and you live in the present. It is not necessary to allow the past to mess up the present. You will be able to stop suffering as soon as you learn how. - 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

Our society has accepted the rule that the way to respond to violence is with more violence. If someone kills someone they should be killed. We sometimes even translate this to include their friends and associates. When we use this rule it is impossible to stop violence, since violence is always the required response. When the state uses violence for punishment it is easy for us as individuals to justify our own use of violence.

In order to stop the cycle of violence we must change our beliefs about it - and thus the way we respond. We have learned that the "power" solution of responding with more violence doesn't work. We have been doing it for several thousand years with only temporary success at best. Let's search for a solution that deals with the root cause of the problem. Let's deal with the anger that is causing the problem as a way of solving the problem. Let's find out where the anger is coming from and resolve the problem. Let's not get angry simply because others have acted out of their anger.

Occasionally someone responds in peace. When we do we usually find it works. When we show compassion and offer support for the perpetrator and his associates we can find a way to get what we really want; which is for that event to not be repeated. When we solve the problem that caused it and put the incident behind us we can achieve our goal of a peaceful life. We can deal with the problem and move on, learning what lessons we can from the incident. The only way that we can create peace is to act in peace. To just demand that someone else be peaceful, according to our rules, has never; nor will it ever, produce peace. Punishment tends to create more conflict that it prevents.

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 often employed against those who go against the rules. We do this 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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