Dove with Branch
May 11, 2009 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, I have a friend who wears clothes that are just not appropriate. He will go to nice parties without a tie on and shirts that are too colorful for instance. Society has certain standards. He needs to know that others will judge him by what he is wearing. When I tell him he gets upset and tells me that it is none of my business. His clothes are affecting his career. How can a get him to pay attention? - Bill in NY

Dear Bill, You have tried, and most likely succeeded. What you have not been able to do is have him change his behavior. He knows what you have told him. He just hasn't chosen to take your advice. We get to choose the things we want out of life. He has chosen to "pay the price" for wearing the clothes he does. To him the price of being depreciated in the opinions of others is not too high. Some will appreciate his choices. We all do things that others wouldn't because it is worth it to us. When someone no longer wants our opinion it is the time to stop giving it. - the Dean

Dear Dean,I have a friend who is always telling me what makeup to wear, and what not to wear. I like the natural look and prefer to wear little or no makeup. I keep telling her that it is none of her business and to please stop giving me advice on my makeup. This doesn't seem to stop her. She keeps telling me what she thinks of my make up on an almost daily basis. How do I get her to stop telling me about how I look? - Krysten in ID

Dear Krysten, You are right! It is none of her business what you wear. It is your face, your life, you get to choose. However it is her business and not yours whether she continues to talk about it or not. When she continues to talk about your makeup it then becomes your business to decide how you wish to respond to her continued talking. This is a free society. She is free to say what she thinks! Consider that when making a choice of whether to remain friends or not. The more we accept others for who they are the more friends/love we have in our life. Not being upset by the opinions of others is a great skill to acquire. - the Dean

I welcome questions and/or comments from our readers. Send your Ask the Dean questions or comments to: 90022 Sheffler Rd., Elmira, OR 97437, or visit to submit by e-mail.

Law, Politics & Society ... As I see them
  Globe Magnify Glass

It is proper and fitting for us to have moral laws in our society. If we didn't do this, then we would be able to treat each other in any way we feel fit. For instance, if we felt it was justified to shoot someone who injured someone in our family in any way, and there was no law against it we would do it. In order to have peace in our society we must have common agreement on what is right and wrong. Moral law is our way of applying the Golden Rule.

A problem comes about when we decide what is right or wrong in our society must also be right or wrong in all societies. We have equal rights; now everyone must. We have democratic government; now everyone must. We do not allow age, gender or religious discrimination in the workplace; now everyone must. Perhaps these are good laws, but who is to decide that when others disagree?

There is a way that we can do that peacefully. We can create a world governing body that can decide those issues. We have a governing body now, the "United Nations." However, we do not allow it settle those issues because we are afraid we may disagree with the rules created. Until we come together as a world body and agree to resolve these issues - decide when we must agree and when we are allowed to disagree - we will never experience a peaceful world society.

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:

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