Dove with Branch
June 11, 2007 Insights From the Dean of Peace
Notes from the Dean's Desk
Hello! - Dean Van Leuven

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Ask the Dean?
Dean Van Leuven   Global Struggle

Dear Dean, Before my mother passed away she wrote me a letter requesting that she be cremated and not to tell anyone this until after her death because she was afraid they would upset her by trying to talk her out of it. When she passed away and I informed everyone to no surprise they were very upset. They were not only upset with her but were upset with me for not informing them. Some will no longer talk to me. Do you think respecting her wishes was proper in this circumstance? - Loving Daughter

Dear Loving Daughter, Yes of course I think you did the right thing! Your mother has the right to choose in these things and it is appropriate for you to respect her wishes. The reason your relatives are upset is because of their own personal problems of not being able to respect your mother. Stay loving, do not let this upset you and go on with your life knowing you did exactly what your mother wanted and that is what mattered. - the Dean

Dear Dean, I have taken a job in a large company. I work the day shift which starts at 6:00 AM. I found that I have become accustomed to late hours and now have trouble sleeping. I would like to work a later shift so that I would be more effective on the job but am afraid to ask. What do you suggest? -Not a Morning Person

Dear Not a Morning Person, I suggest you first consider your options and choose the one that you believe will be the most effective in the long run. Unless you can change your habit to get enough sleep then asking to work a later shift seems like an attractive option. Since that is available at your present workplace, it would seem that asking to change is an option that would most likely be attractive to both you and your employer. They would benefit from a more energetic worker on the job and would most likely accommodate you. Just be sure that you ask in a positive way so that they will see value both in you and your request. - 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 www.DeanOfPeace.com. to submit by e-mail.

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

The idea that we think it is okay to fight wars to further the interest of our country goes hand in hand with the idea that we should use the death penalty as punishment in our legal system. What we want to happen more than anything else when a crime is committed is that it never be committed again. We think that punishment will be effective and they deserve the death penalty, "an eye for an eye." How effective has that been for us? Not very!

I suggest we focus more on preventing the crime from first happening, and then recurring, and we will be more successful in preventing murder. If it is okay for the state to use death for punishment then we look at death as appropriate punishment and are far more apt to feel justified in administering the punishment of death personally. Because the state is not there at the moment we feel justified in administering the punishment personally. We do this for example, when we kill someone in defense of our property. We even extend this on occasion to when someone has done something to make us angry.

Since we have given the state the power to administer death as punishment, we are able to accept the concept that when the state does not have its way in the world that it has the right to administer death to its adversaries by waging war. If murder is wrong then the death penalty and war are wrong because they are just "murder by the state." If we want to live peacefully in the world with other nations, and other people we must give up the idea that we can kill them when they displease us.

Creating a Peaceful New World
  World Peace

Train yourself to be a good listener by learning how to "listen deeply." To do this, you must put your own thoughts and beliefs on hold, and really focus on what the other person is saying. Unfortunately, most conversations can be characterized as "my stuff/your stuff." They can be likened to a strange game of tennis - played with separate balls. You serve your ball to me. I let it pass and serve my ball back to you. You let it pass and serve your ball back to me. The game continues in this way - with neither player returning the other person's ball. In such an instance, it obviously isn't a game at all. And in a conversation with the same characteristics, it's not really a conversation at all. You want to tell your story and I want to tell mine.

We never hear the other person's story because we are too busy telling our own. How many conversations have you had lately that went this way? We can defuse another person's anger simply by putting an end to the "my stuff/your stuff" game and truly listening to that person. Interestingly, very often when you give an upset person the courtesy of politely listening to what they have to say, without interrupting them or retaliating in anger, their anger is reduced. And they will be better able to listen to your story after you have fully listened to them.

As you are listening; focus on the feelings being expressed by the other person, rather than the strict meaning of their words. The feelings are the most important part of any message. When a child tells us, "Billie hit me," we tend to focus on the hit instead of how the child feels. If you can respond in a way that lets the child know you understand how he feels, this will tend to calm him down. For example, "It sounds like you feel hurt and angry." Learn to deal with an angry person's feelings in this way. Their feelings are usually far more important to them than the event itself.

Tips for Peaceful and Joyful Living
  Left Arrow

Monday: Think about how closely you listen when other people talk.

Tuesday: Think about how to recognize other people's feelings as they talk.

Wednesday: Learn to listen completely to the other person's message before you think about responding to them.

Thursday: Learn to allow the other person to tell you their story fully before you tell them your story.

Friday: Learn to ask questions so you can fully understand what the other person is saying.

Saturday: Learn to ask questions so you can fully understand how the other person is feeling.

Sunday: Resolve to always listen thoughtfully and fully to what the other person has to say before you respond.

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: www.DeanOfPeace.com

Additional Notes
 

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Dean Of Peace | P.O. Box 535 | Elmira | OR | 97437