Dove with Branch
September 05, 2011 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, Jackie and I plan to be married in December and we want a simple wedding at the courthouse with just our families. My mother is okay with this, but Jackie's mother is not. She thinks we must have a large wedding and elaborate reception. She says that the family's social status is important and not to worry because she will pay for everything. Neither Jackie nor I want to do this. What do you suggest? - Ben in MD

Dear Ben, 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 happy with her plans. Be sure you have considered the benefits of letting her do it. If you do not find them attractive, then you and Jackie should politely and firmly decline her offer. 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 grandchildren gifts for their birthday and Christmas and never receive any kind of thank you. I am disgusted with their behavior. How can I get my son and daughter-in-law to teach their children to at least say thank you? - Grandma Bess in PA

Dear Grandma Bess, 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 acknowledging gifts would be appropriate. Not feeling loving toward your children because they have not 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: 90022 Sheffler Rd., Elmira, OR 97437, or visit to submit by e-mail.

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

Two of the world's most irrational arguments:

(1) We can't afford to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions because it would be too costly and reduce our quality of life. If we don't reduce our greenhouse emissions it will reduce our quality of life! This is a little bit like saying we can't afford to raise chickens because there is too big a demand for eggs. If we want to preserve our quality of life then the changes must be made.

(2) We can't afford to stop building weapons of war because we would have to close the factories and people would be out of work. This is like saying we can't stop killing each other because then we would have nothing else to do. The only justification I can see for this argument is that since we are killing each other if we get good at it then perhaps our group will prevail and many of us will survive. When we take this view the world is condemned to continued warfare and killing.

We recognize that war and global warming are threats to our existence. When we make choices that assure that they will continue we are being irrational. When we want something to change we must make choices that create the change instead of choices that prevent the change. These irrational arguments are being made at the highest level of our government. It is my hope that we as a society will recognize their irrationality and lead our government toward more rational choices.

Creating a Peaceful New World
  World Peace

Our expectations can often get in the way of intimacy - especially when we're not forthcoming with our mate or when expectations clash. We need to let our mate know what our expectations are, find what their expectations are, and then come to some agreement about them. Preferably, we should do this before we enter into any permanent or long-term relationship.

Your mate's expectations will always be different than your own. To assume otherwise will only get you into trouble. Too often, we expect that our relationship will or should resemble how things were in our family or how "most couples" relate to each other in this society. We then become partners with someone expecting that they will think and act that way. But we have no right to expect that our perspective partner live up to our expectations, unless they agree to.

Anything you consider important in your relationship should be agreed to ahead of time by both of you. When things come up as your relationship progresses, they should be worked out mutually. We have no right to be angry just because our mate doesn't want to do things our way. Their idea of what is important and what they should contribute are just as important as ours are. Expecting them to conform to our notion of how a partner should be, when they haven't agreed to those expectations, and becoming angry when they don't live up to them, is unfair and unreasonable.

Tips for Peaceful and Joyful Living
  Left Arrow

Monday: Think about how you want your relationship with your partner to be.

Tuesday: Think about the expectations you have for a relationship that might be different from a typical relationship.

Wednesday: Think about the things you would like your partner to contribute to the relationship.

Thursday: Think about the things you are willing to contribute to the relationship.

Friday: Think about the differences you may have with your mate or any perspective mate.

Saturday: Think about how you can work together to resolve differences.

Sunday: Picture yourself living in a perfect relationship with a loving mate.

Dean Van Leuven is a psychologist, conducts workshops and is the author of Life Without Anger and many other books dealing with quality of life issues. Contact him on the web at:

Additional Notes

The World Emotional Literacy League in conjunction with World Without Anger and Lumbini Buddhist University has taken on the task of introducing emotional literacy training in the educational system of Nepal nationwide. In support of that program I will be conducting workshops throughout the United States and Canada. These workshops will provide an introduction to the emotional skills training program as well as an introduction to establishing emotional skills training programs in your local area. The program and my workshops are based on my textbook "Emotional Intelligence - Taking Control of Your Life."

I have taken on the task of supporting the teaching of emotional skills training in the educational system with the trust and hope, that many in your community will be able to share in the vision of this great work, and join us in this amazing project. We are promoting a "Sponsor a School" program to raise awareness and support throughout the U.S. & Canada If you have any interest in the program and/or having a workshop in your area. Contact me for additional information.

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