Dove with Branch
December 22, 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, Each year at Christmas we are committed to drive to my parent's home in Colorado to have Christmas with my parents. They live in Vail and often the roads are treacherous. The trip is very stressful for us and we really would rather not go but feel obligated. Is there a way to deal with this that would not be so stressful? - Paula in CA

Dear Paula, You can find a solution that is not stressful by simply deciding to choose (or create) one that is not stressful. You have many to choose from. For example you may decide to have "Christmas" with your parents at a time of the year that is less hectic, when you have more time to visit, and the roads are safer. Perhaps they can come and stay with you. You can decide to go anyway and give up the worries. The possibilities are too numerous to list. - the Dean

Dear Dean, Every holiday season we spent so much on decorations that we had little money and energy left for Christmas.. We enjoyed our display being the envy of the neighborhood, but the cost seemed too high both in money and loving energy that is the point of the season. This year we put up a simple display from the materials at hand and spent our time enjoying the neighbors display and complementing them on their artistry. We found our Christmas much more relaxing and joyful. - Joy in IN

Dear Joy, Good for you! When we do things to be envied instead of to give love it is time to reevaluate! - 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

During the season of peace and goodwill let us stop for a moment and reflect on some of the more practical reasons for learning to live together in peace: We produce products from our limited resources at a considerable cost in time, labor and materials. The products we produce enhance our quality of life. The amount of time, labor and resources are all limited in supply. When we produce goods for war we are using some of our limited resources just because we are not able to settle our differences in a less costly manner.

Yet when we say we want to quit making weapons of war we hear complaints that it hurts the economy because people are losing jobs. If we reflect for a moment, we realize that if we weren't making war machines we could use our resources to increase our quality of life.

How much does it cost us to learn to love, trust and care for each other on this planet? Is it more than the cost of war? I don't think it is. I think we need to spend more effort on increasing our quality of life so that we won't have the need to defend ourselves from each other. The need for war is simply a state of mind. Let's change our state of mind!

issues. Contact him on the web at:

Creating a Peaceful New World
  World Peace

Perception and recognition is the way we have of evaluating the information than comes to us through our five senses and includes the specific way that we interpret that information. Each of us sees life from our own frame of reference. Our differing perceptions are often the source of conflict and anger. If we understand and choose to accept our differences however, our dissimilar perceptions can become a source of wisdom, joy, and humor in our lives.

We tend to perceive information that supports the beliefs we have. First we take note of the information presented to us that validates our belief systems, and we often fail to notice things that do not. Next, we interpret the information that we receive in a way that is consistent with our existing belief system.

What if this wasn't necessarily the case? What if we considered the information in the light of differing belief systems? And what if we always looked at things from a number of points of view before making a decision?

Tips for Peaceful and Joyful Living
  Left Arrow

Monday: Today I appreciate the diversity in humankind.

Tuesday: Today I say only good things.

Wednesday: Today I say "I love you."

Thursday: Today I take time to breathe deeply.

Friday: Today I practice forgiveness.

Saturday: Today I am forgiveness in action.

Sunday: Today I take myself lightly.

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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