Dove with Branch
August 20, 2012 Insights From the Dean of Peace
Notes from the Dean's Desk
Dear Peacemaker,

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Ask the Dean?
Dean Van Leuven   Global Struggle

Dear Dean, My younger brother and I had an extremely difficult relationship. I see him only at family gathering and we end up fighting and leaving angry with each other. He is an angry person and it is difficult to be around him. I do miss him and feel guilty can you offer some suggestions on how to resolve this difference? - Keith in CA

Dear Keith, Your brother is just the way he is. Your relationship with him depends on your ability to be reasonably comfortable with his anger; or to find a way so that you no longer experience it. You obviously care about your family and would like to get along, thus you have created a dilemma for yourself. You must make a choice. Possible choices include: 1. Learning how to not to be affected by his anger. 2. Getting him not to display him anger in your presence. 3. No longer being around him. 4. Being with him only when there is someone else present to deflect the anger. 5. No longer spending any talking with him at all. Only you know which answer is best for you. If you can accomplish the first suggestion it may provide other great benefits in your life as well. Consider taking responsibility for your reaction to his anger and seeking some understanding of how to change your reaction. My book "Life Without Anger" would be helpful in allowing you to be able to spend acceptable, and perhaps even pleasurable time with your brother; as well as derive other benefits in your life. - the Dean

Dear Dean, I appreciate the helpful tips and find if I really pay attention to them they make life work better for me. - Barb in MN

Dear Barb, Thanks for the kind words! - 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

We humans have a great power of rationalization. We have the ability to see a particular event or set of facts in a way that supports our position. We find this of such great value that we even have debate teams in school where we learn and compete at this skill. We think that it is more important for our point of view to prevail than it is to determine the facts about something. The points that don't agree with our view we twist or ignore.

Why do we do this? I believe it is because we live in a world where power is more important than truth. He who has the power gets all the "goodies" regardless of the truth of the matter. That is the way we have created our society. Because of this, the power of persuasion is an important skill in our society. When we have this viewpoint, prevailing over others is more important than being at peace with others.

If we are going to create a peaceful world society, we must learn to replace this old way of thinking with a viewpoint that both searches for the truth and respects the viewpoint of others. When we are all trying to prevail over others, when we are not willing to accept less, there is no possibility of peace. Peace cannot be obtained through power! That is why so many of us think that peace is not possible. We can have peace when we are willing to accept not having it "our way" all of the time. Change our goal and we can find peace. As it is sometimes said, we need to shift from the love of power to the power of love.

Creating a Peaceful New World
  World Peace

When you communicate with someone who may be holding onto a lot of anger, the best way to deal with him or her is to show a genuine interest in them as a person and in the way that they view life. You'll likely find that when you communicate in this way, their defenses will drop and their hearts will open. Your authentic concern is a powerful diffuser of anger. You can learn how to show concern without validating their fear or anger.

Another very important aspect of communication that we often neglect is to understand the meaning that the other person has for the words they choose. I often find this a problem in doing workshops. I use a word one way and the listeners apply their own meaning to the word which is different from what I intended. This means that I haven't really communicated very well at all. When the response you get is not what you expect make sure that you and the other person really understand the same meaning for all of the words.

Always be vigilant that you both are using the same meaning for words. Realize that you often are not. Try to define or choose your words more precisely when ambiguity is possible. Always be receptive of the other person's definition of a word as appropriate; because it is for them. This is one issue that my wife and I have to pay very close attention to because we find we are often understanding something differently than what the other one is trying to say to us.

Tips for Peaceful and Joyful Living
  Left Arrow

Monday: Today I think about how I can make friends just by being interested in another person's concerns.

Tuesday: Let other people know you are interested in them by asking them to share their concerns with you.

Wednesday: If you are not sure of the meaning another person has to their words ask before you make an assumption.

Thursday: When the answer you get is not what you are expecting check to see what the other person thought you said, and what they meant by the words they used.

Friday: Today I concentrate on avoiding ambiguity in my words.

Saturday: Today I learn to ask when I am not certain that I understand the meaning of what the other person is saying.

Sunday: I resolve that when I am disturbed by another person's words I will always seek clarity before responding.

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 conduct workshops throughout the United States and Canada. These workshops 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."

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