Dove with Branch
January 07, 2013 Insights From the Dean of Peace
Notes from the Dean's Desk
Dear Dean,

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Ask the Dean?
Dean Van Leuven   Global Struggle

Dear Dean, I have a friend that always criticizes the way I dress. I tell her that I don't like to be criticized, but she says "I am just trying to be helpful." I don't think that friends should criticize each other. What do you think? - Sherri in WA

Dear Sherri, I think that you think friends shouldn't criticize each other - and that you look at her giving her opinion of how you look as criticism. If what someone thinks of you is of no value or hurtful to you then you will want to avoid them - or get over it. Many think it is really great to have someone they can trust to give them an honest opinion. If I had a friend who was doing this to be helpful I would appreciate it very much. If what they said upset me, then I would try to examine and change how I feel about it. Friends sometimes bring out our insecurities. If they are doing it in a loving way then we can be thankful. - the Dean

Dear Dean, My daughter-in-law won't invite me to her home or not even take calls from me. I have never seen my grandchildren because she won't allow my son to bring them to my home. My son has chosen to abide by her wishes even though I know it hurts him very much. She won't allow him to call or write. She won't even let me know what I have done to upset her. What can I do to make her let me see my grandchildren? - Trish in NJ

Dear Trish, If she refuses to talk to you and you are unable to talk to your son as well, then gracious acceptance of the situation is probably your best bet in the long run. Perhaps time will change things. Have great compassion for your son and do not make things more difficult for him. For whatever reason, he has chosen to abide by his wife's wishes. It was most likely not an easy choice for him. Try not to add to his suffering by showing your pain to him. Being understanding would be a great gift to him. - 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

As humans banded together; at first in small communities and then in ever larger social structures we developed rules about how we should live and function together. These are the rules that have become the laws and traditions which determine how our society functions. These structures were created at a time when we were concerned primarily with our safety, and when we had little trust that others would follow the rules voluntarily.

We developed solutions that did not look beyond the immediate problem we were trying to solve, and did not contemplate changes that would occur in the future. Conditions changed and needs changed but rules changed only a little. Our rules and laws are bound by traditions from the past that are difficult to change.

We would benefit from examining these structures in some detail to determine possible changes that will bring them into harmony with the objective of creating a harmonious framework for our society. Our objective is to create a framework that will make it possible for each of us on this planet to experience a peaceful and joyful life. In working to create peace we need to examine each of our society's operating systems to determine their goals and purpose. We need to discover the stresses and obstacles created by the way they presently function. We need to have a general understanding of the functioning and objectives of each of these areas. This will allow us to be able to create productive changes that will help to align these systems more closely with our need to function effectively and to be creative in a Peaceful World.

Creating a Peaceful New World
  World Peace

Have you ever asked yourself, "Why can't I forgive that person?" "Why can't I forgive myself?" or "Why can't I let go of the anger and forgive?" We can always come up with a reason why we should not forgive. The most common one is: "It was their fault. They deserve my anger." (Or, "I'm to blame - how can I ever forgive myself?") Our society teaches us that people should pay for their mistakes, whether they are intentional, or not. This comes from the ancient idea of "an eye for an eye." We have been taught that when we are wronged, we must punish the wrongdoer, and that; "Such behavior just cannot be tolerated - you must pay for it," and "The guilty must be caught and punished."

Raised with such societal beliefs about guilt and punishment, we think we must make others suffer as punishment for having offended us. We believe we must return the hurt to get even. But thinking in this way produces an emotional response rather than an effective reasoned response that allows us to maximize our life experience. We would be more effective if our primary focus was on preventing more of this kind of behavior instead of on making someone pay for his or her mistakes.

Someone may have killed a loved one of ours in an unfortunate automobile accident. Regardless of whether it was carelessness, or not even the other person's fault, we find it difficult to forgive them. If you cannot forgive, that person now has the power over you. He is controlling your life in a very negative way. As long as you hold the anger, you are continuing to be hurt. This is a bit like being sick and saying to the doctor, "I want to keep this pain, so please don't make me well." The lesson is that forgiveness is for your own benefit and has nothing to do with what the other person did and whether you are letting them off the hook or not.

Tips for Peaceful and Joyful Living
  Left Arrow

Monday: Today I celebrate the things that unify us.

Tuesday: Today I pray for peace in my world.

Wednesday: Today I affirm that there will be peace in my world.

Thursday: Today I write a loving note to someone.

Friday: Today I offer peaceful words and actions.

Saturday: Today I practice nonviolence.

Sunday: Today I thank others for their peaceful words and actions.

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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