Dove with Branch
November 03, 2008 Insights From the Dean of Peace
Notes from the Dean's Desk

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Ask the Dean?
Dean Van Leuven   Global Struggle

Dear Dean, Fred and I are planning to be married in January. We want to have a small wedding with only family and a few close friends attending. My mother is okay with this but Fred's mother isn't. She insists on a big wedding and reception including everyone we know. She insists that the family's social status is important and she will pay for everything. Neither Fred nor I are concerned about social status. What should we do about this? - Desri in CA

Dear Desri, It is good to consider the feelings of others in your family, but you are entitled to make the decisions. Turning it over to your mother-in-law could be a great gift if you were comfortable with her plans. Be sure you have considered the benefits. If you do not find them attractive, then you and Fred should politely and firmly decline her offer or perhaps consider a compromise. The two of you need to reach agreement on your course of action and follow it. You are free to choose a social life different from your parents. - the Dean

Dear Dean, I give my grown children and my grandchildren gifts for their birthday and Christmas and never receive any kind of thank you from them. I am upset by their rudeness. How can I get them to acknowledge the gifts that I give them? - Anna Marie in CO

Dear Anna Marie, You can't and you shouldn't. When we give someone a gift that means that it is given without condition. If we expect something in return, even if it is only a thank you, we have not given a gift since we are expecting some form of payment in return. It is customary in our society to acknowledge and give thanks for gifts and if you want to give them something on that condition you may certainly do so. Consider that they are not thanking you for the gifts simply because they have not learned the concept of doing so. If you want them to learn this concept a pleasant word pointing out the value of doing so would be appropriate. Not feeling loving toward your children because they haven't learned the concept seems a very high price to pay. - 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

The time of the Vietnam War was a time of many protest movements against the war. The cold war was a time of ban the bomb movements. The thing most of these movements had in common was that they were resistance movements against what was going on. The people who were involved were called activists. An activist thus became someone who didn't like what was happening and was fighting for change to something they thought was better. This was the same view as those who were fighting the war but only for a "better" cause.

I see a different thing appearing more often in the peace movement today. Many of those who are working for peace are working only for positive change. While they are often called activists they are not resisting what is happening. They are just trying to change the consciousness of our society so that we choose a nonviolent resolution to our conflicts. Resolution of the conflict becomes more important to them than retribution for the "wrong." Instead of resisting the bad things that are happening, the focus becomes how to create a better way.

I look at this as a truly positive change in our social outlook. Peaceful resolution to problems is possible. And it produces a happier, less stressed society with more of its energy and resources dedicated to the enjoyment of life, than to the protection of life. War is wasteful and no longer necessary, once we are willing to give up being the "boss of who does what."

Creating a Peaceful New World
  World Peace

If we are going to have World Peace it is something we must create together. As long as we impose what we think is right, even if we truly believe that it is right for other people, we will not find peace.

Peace can only come from within the individual. Peace cannot be imposed on people. No matter how enlightened some concept or philosophy may seem if it is not embraced by most individuals it will not create peace. It is the nature of humans to resist the things they do not understand or accept. If a concept is not accepted by society then that concept will not survive peacefully because we humans will continue to resist what we do not accept of our own free will. Thus the great revolutions we see in our history.

However true this is, it remains the nature of mankind to seek peace. To humans, love feels good, and fear and anger feel bad. We grew up in a world where the strong have dominated the weak. In our early society, before we had laws, strength; either individually, or that of the community or nation was the way we survived. Tribes banded together for their survival. Other tribes who were more aggressive banded together to provide for themselves by taking from the weaker and less aggressive tribes. We now understand enough to achieve more positive social solutions.

Tips for Peaceful and Joyful Living
  Left Arrow

Monday: Think about the times you try to get other people to do things the way you think they should be done.

Tuesday: Think about the times other people try to get you to do things the way they think they should be done.

Wednesday: Think about what it would be like if other people accepted doing things the way you wanted them to.

Thursday: Think about what it could be like if you could just accept other people's ways of doing things.

Friday: Think about what it would be like if you were each free to choose your own way of doing things.

Saturday: Think what it would be like to negotiate differences with the object of freedom for each to do it their own way.

Sunday: Resolve to fully respect the differences of others in all relationships in your life.

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:

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