Social and Political Consequences of the French Revolution

The act that we call the French Revolution was truly a world changing event with both social and political consequences. Attempting to determine whether the revolution was political with social consequences or vice versa can be difficult depending on what you study and whose viewpoint you look at. I really feel from my studies this semester that the French Revolution was a revolution that had both social and political consequences, but wasn't necessarily a political revolution or a social revolution either. There are a few reasons that I believe this to be the case which I will carefully outline. Looking back at the revolution and the changes that it inspired and propelled forward, we can see how some of the changes were quite revolutionary and how many changes were in some ways not really a change at all.

The revolution changed France in some ways politically and in some ways kept a bit of the status quo... just under different labels. Early supporters of the revolution did use an excuse that was political in nature for the revolt: that excuse was that power was monopolized in the form of a king and a corrupt and despotic system of government. This really appears to have been either an excuse or an incorrect perception as the reality of the governmental system was not that clean cut. Centuries before the revolution, the poor and disabled had been taken care of by the Catholic church. Many local governmental functions and education of those born to the upper and middle classes was also usually paid for by the church. In the years preceding the revolution, many of those jobs began to be taken on by the French monarchy instead of the church. This brought not only extra expenses, but with the ever growing and expanding populations... even more people who would need relief in emergencies such as famine. The government already had huge money issues due to costly rivalries with other countries (which included funding the American bid for Independence against England) and the monarch's inability to budget the governmental finances appropriately. The royal government had really developed a centralized administrative system that in theory was more streamlined than any other European countries, but in practice it was not smooth and didn't take into account laws from the smaller areas which might not agree with the 'national' laws. Before the Revolution, the monarchy had absolute control over the use of the military, development and implementation of law, and the collection and spending of public money.

With the coming Revolution, the monarchy was gradually removed from power. The National Assembly in 1791 set up a new regime which was a constitutional monarchy- this lasted only ten months. The next governing group was the National Convention whose members were called Jacobins, but that particular group splintered into other groups of like minded individuals that formed their own 'political parties'- the Montagnards and Girondins and also the San-culottes. The king and his family were imprisoned and then in late 1792 King Louis XVI was convicted of treason and executed early in the new year. The new government was now fully run by the National Convention... which was controlled by its largest and most powerful faction called the Montagnards... which was lead by Maximilian Robespierre. The country was then ruled by this man and a 'committee' that Robespierre and the Convention developed to attempt to stop the counter revolution... because by this time not everyone was satisfied with the path that the government was starting to tread. This group, known as the Committee of Public Safety, was charged with setting up revolutionary courts and executing criminals and anyone deemed treasonous or disloyal to the French state and/or the Revolution. This began the Reign of Terror and around 40,000 people were put to death by the guillotine- this included governmental leaders from the convention that didn't agree with Robespierre, women, and simple dissatisfied citizens. By 1794, the policy of 'Terror' had alienated so many people and Convention members that their leader, Maximilian Robespierre, was convicted of treason and, after a failed suicide attempt, he was put to death in July 1974.

The government was then run by the Convention which put down more uprisings with the help of the Army, tried to end the country's war with Spain and Prussia, produced a new constitution and developed a form of leadership called The Directory-it was a five man executive governing council. A two house-legislative assembly was developed and democratic elections were set up, however, the National Convention set up some rules in the new system to favor themselves and rioting began again. The government was ideological divided between members who wanted to bring the monarchy back and those who wanted even more democracy.
When The Directory realized that royalist supporters were becoming the majority in the government, they turned to a general named Napoleon Bonaparte for help. After elections, Bonaparte with the help of another general and large forces of soldiers, helped to take over the government. In this forced takeover, two members of the Dictators were removed, most of the election results were annulled, and power fell literally into the hands of a few members of the National Convention. This led to a fairly ineffective dictatorship until 1799 when a few members of the Convention chose Napoleon Bonaparte to be their leader- when a large amount of Convention members resisted, Bonaparte used the army to effectively take over and become the dictator of France.

So politically, many things didn't really change if you look at the situation with a wide angled lens. The Revolution threw out the absolute monarchy and executed their king... and then accepted Robespierre as almost a one man leader. Robespierre, known as 'the Incorruptible', was eventually thrown out and executed... so that power was transferred to a group of five called the Directory. When the five members of the Directory couldn't agree on public policy, Napoleon Bonaparte was brought in and two members were thrown out. Then, after some time and more infighting, Napoleon Bonaparte effectively took over and became a one man leader- by 1804, he was named hereditary emperor. No matter who was in charge, the government tended to be in many ways reactionary and would perform actions that were some of the people's biggest complaints under the governmental system before the Revolution; arrest warrants of any one without meaningful trials, government appointed and not
democratically elected leaders, special privileges to small percentage of the population, etc... So, while some things changed politically in France, many things remained close to the original status quo... only changing slightly as time moved forward and the society and government was stabilized.

French Society changed a bit in its social structure and culture with in the revolution. Before the revolution, every citizen from the poorest peasant to the wealthiest noble believed that they had rights and privileges that should be defended and this view was strengthened with the behavior and beliefs of the members of parlements... behavior that was unable to be controlled by the monarch due to the permanent circumstances of the parlement judges. Some of these thoughts came from ideas that became popular during the Enlightenment- a period of time where ideas on tradition, science, human reason and ability as well as religion changed and shifted in the minds of many. (And Paris was said to be the 'heart' of the Enlightenment movement.) Education became more important and more and more people were educated, literate and able to better participate in the world and politics around them. In short, most enlightenment thought was based on differing ideas of freedom and liberty... and was fairly secular in nature. French society had social divisions based on class as well as special privileges that came with belonging to different groups; the clergy and nobility enjoyed exemption from most taxes and many positions in the government were reserved for those of noble birth... or those who were wealthy enough to purchase a title.

With the beginning of the revolution, many changes to French society were attempted. The Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen was discussed and written by the National Assembly. This document was an attempt to write out the hoped for rules for the new government; they included man's natural rights to their liberty, personal property, security, equal treatment under the law, etc... All of these ideas were revolutionary for their time. The privileges of special groups, such as the nobles or the clergy, which had been hereditary and traditional, were attacked and changed under reform. The laws of property ownership were changed and idea of private property was more respected and protected by law from extra fees and eminent property rights. Women, who had been excluded from politics in pre-revolution days, became open participators in political groups and societal change in the beginning of the revolution. Voting rights were given to all citizens by the Declaration. Divorce and marriage became state institutions and were no longer governed fully by the Catholic Church. Numerous constitutions were written to protect people and property from the government by guaranteeing rights, elections, etc... The Declaration also included the right of Freedom of Speech which was supposed to help end censorship and fear in oral and written expression.

However, many of the above mentioned changes were not necessarily constant or unchanging in themselves. While the Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen declared man's natural rights to many things, the document was vague enough that its interpretation was actually quite limiting over time. The word 'man' in the document was usually interpreted to not include women and any gender minorities (Africans and Jews). This interpretation was so consistent that it caused on female writer to 'rewrite' the declaration and title it The Declaration of the Rights of Woman. Women were later excluded from much participation in politics by government bans on the ways they participated. Voting rights quickly became exclusive and limited to the small majority of property owners- Robespierre was quoted as saying “Can the law be termed an expression of general will when the greater number of those for whom it is made can have no hand in its making?” The National Convention and The Directory would openly violate the constitutional protections many times over their rule. Robespierre and the beginning of the Terror would put a large damper on all rights to free speech or expression... unless you were willing to die for your words.

So the revolution started with the dissatisfaction of the nobles which caused the King to call the Estates General into session, but then the revolution left the hands of the aristocracy and titled elite and the leading roles in events were handled by the bourgeoisie and the lower classes. With the dissatisfaction of the Third Estate and the King with the Estates General, the general dissatisfaction became a bit of class warfare and distrust. The appearance of the monarchy siding with the noble classes made the break between the groups even more hostile. Add a famine, rising bread costs and riots began to break out. Then the Bastille was rioted and captured by members of the third estate and the Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen was completed. A constitutional monarchy was set up, abolished and then governmental rule by the National Convention and the 'Committee for Public Safety'- or, in actuality, rule by Maximilian Robespierre. After his 'overthrow', governmental power was held in the hands of five men who were known as the Directory and the National Convention, but in a short period of time we see power moving again to one man in the form of Napoleon Bonaparte. France had gone through many attempts at political and society change, but few were immediately lasting. Most social and political change really took time-such as decades- to really cement themselves into the culture, mindset, and behavior of the people of France. Some of these 'revolutionary' changes appear to have only really been possible to thrive in an environment that was not 'revolutionary'- i.e. an environment that was stable and relatively constant. The only thing constant about the politics and the society of the French Revolution was its inconsistency, reactionary manner, and fear. The National Assembly, National Convention, the several Constitutions... all of these were born in crisis and finding the way out of crisis seemed nearly impossible. Only with the coming of some forms of governmental stability did France have the lasting change that it had wished for early on causing the French Revolution.


C.S. Lewis : A Life Comparison

While thinking of leaders that inspire me, I immediately thought of many popular ones- Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela... the current leaders that have a great deal of well deserved good press. When I caught my thoughts, I laughed that I had thought of only well known and popular leaders... and then an image of Tiger Woods flew into my head and I started to giggle- I think that he left his 'moral compass' a few times in a hotel room. :D I decided that I really needed to step back and instead of just looking for someone in a 'leadership position' that inspired me, I needed to think about the values and principles that inspire me and then take the time to think about specific individuals. During this mindful process, only one name really came to mind. For this exploration into my leadership skills and values, I wish to explore and examine the life story and values of C.S. Lewis.

Once the image of this person entered my mind, I will admit I couldn't imagine using anyone else. C.S. Lewis had been a part of my life through his written works- from the age of eight when I began devouring the 'Chronicles of Narnia' and really building an understanding of my world... to my current life experiences where I am studying and discovering ways to understand the current fear and grief that I feel in my life by studying his work 'A Grief Observed.' The more I learn about him and his life story, the more opportunities that I have found to really look at myself and how I view the world. I agree very untruth to state that in many ways over the years, his writings have shaped my thoughts and beliefs. (That said, Mr. Lewis says almost nothing that doesn't agree or fit in with the religion I grew up with... so where that religious training and his (Lewis) influence begins and ends... I cannot really be sure.) This assignment seemed like an excellent excuse to study more about C.S. Lewis... and about myself. I intend to discuss parts of his life story and values and then describe how and what they mean to me and what I have learned from him and his story.

Mr. Lewis didn't have a idyllic childhood and he had a bit of difficulty with trials when he was growing up. He was close to his mother who died of cancer when he was nine years old. His father then immediately sent him to an English boarding school that he hated. This was a struggle for him especially as a young child to basically lose both of his parents- his mom to death and his father to distance, broken trust, and anger. While my experience was different in the physical details, many of the emotional details are similar. Both of my parents are still alive, but in many ways they might as well be deceased. I was born to deeply religious parents and I am the oldest of five children. Things were never very good in my childhood memory as my mother was always frantic, angry and things I cannot adequately describe. For six months when I was twelve, my childhood was good... or at least calmer and different. My mother was diagnosed with XXXXXXXXXX and was on heavy tranquilizers for that time (I know the diagnosis from the whispers- I can not swear it's correct. This was a time when lots of stuff had that particular label) She was kind and she smiled a lot and I only remember feeling fairly safe and sort of hopeful. When it comes to my family I have not felt that since that brief period of time. After six months, my mother decided there was nothing wrong with her, stopped the meds and has continued on an angry, manipulative, controlling manic path ever since. My father appears to have avoided the house and the family like the plague and so I felt trapped, angry, sorrowful, and I learned to hide, push back, and struggle on my own. I learned to lie, and do what ever it took to survive- within reason as I never tried prostitution- I think that requires a level of confidence and trust and a little more self disgust than I actually have. :) In many ways, C.S. Lewis took the right path- he believed in himself and found it acceptable to question everything. It didn't hurt to question, it didn't make him feel weak to question... he used it to build himself up, to improve his mind and confidence in his abilities and understanding of life and himself. What I can learn from him is that you can allow yourself to grow from adversity, you can be successful and a good person no matter what the trials of your childhood. He was able to build a relationship with his father over time that wasn't perfect, but was 'good'. That took risk, tolerance and an understanding of himself and human nature that wasn't his alone. I can have that gift too- I just need to want it, to actively work towards it, and to cut myself some slack when I stumble... because if I don't, I will continue to be unwilling to take risks and will only continue to be scared, confused, and closed up. Listening and reading about his early years inspires me to try and rework my story and to discover the good depths inside my early life, even if it is only the understanding of it and the hope for better and the drive to find joy now... and to give joy to others.

When C.S. Lewis was a young man, he studied and discovered his Christian faith. Because of his intense and questioning journey to faith, his faith became quite strong and became a part of everything he did. His faith infused all aspects of his life, including his quiet works of charity, his writing and his married life. I admire his intense struggle to find faith as many people do not or are not able to struggle enough to find this. I admire his openness about his beliefs and his religion- his 'no fear' attitude about sharing it with not only close friends, but anyone. As I have looked at his example and been able to really explore and learn about my faith, I have become braver about expressing my faith in ways I didn't feel comfortable doing before. An example is that I feel comfortable telling people the truth about why I do not drink alcohol now - that it's against my religion- and not just try to deflect the question or attempt to make sure I am never in a situation in which the question might come up... or even pretend to drink some so that I look like everyone else. His example has helped me to feel more motivated to learn about my faith so that not only do I understand what I believe in, but I feel more secure and confident in living what I believe. Both Lewis and myself believed in charity and service and that is an aspect of my life that is very important to me. While Lewis usually gave money and gave about 50% of all of his book profits to charity, I will admit that I tend to give 'sweat'... as I do not have a lot of money. I volunteer for the local animal shelter once a month, the local food bank twice a week, and I help people who ask for it during other times, including free babysitting, church volunteer work, and rides and shopping for people who are in need. This is a very important aspect of my life and I think that I wouldn't be a very good person without these opportunities. I learn so much about other people and I gain access to information and understanding that you cannot just get from a book or from chatting with someone. Service is something that feels good and feels even better if people do not know about it... it becomes a pearl of joy and a smile in my heart. So while I cannot give in the same way that he did, I have discovered that I can give... and I do have lots to give! I have learned more about my faith, gained understanding of other human beings and tolerance in general. I have also learned an important lesson from him in that when he taught about Christian ideas, C.S. Lewis stayed with very basic doctrines and didn't get political or so specific that people could feel angry or offended or left out. I think that this is a really important concept and few people are able or have been able to accomplish this when discussing divisive topics. He was able to work to bring people together in faith... and not just become another individual whose works divide and hurt people. Learning from him- even though he is not of my particular sect- has made my journey more fruitful, gives me ways to understand others and an example of how to work with people better; to find the common ground with others and to work from there. Even in as divisive a topic as Christianity and religion, he was able to do this... so there is no reason that I cannot. I just need to keep working on the idea and how I approach and see others in body language and in speech.

It probably comes as no surprise to many that C.S. Lewis was a prolific writer. However, while he wrote Christian apologist works, he wrote pieces and books that were successful in many different genres. (Some of his popular books actually started out as speeches that he gave.) However, his dream was to write poetry and that was how he started his writing career. His poetry was not popular and few people read it today. However, he didn't allow the disappointment of his career in poetry to hold him down. As he also liked writing, he dabbled his hand in that- and no one can truthfully say that he was unsuccessful in that regard! I really believe that his writings have literally shaped and changed my life. I love writing and I hope that I am pretty good at it, but my first love really is poetry and while I write it... I am not very good at it. Something that Mr. Lewis and I have in common... along with the fact that we are both horrendous at math. :) Over the last two years, I have tried to share my writing talents with others in a way that felt 'safe' for me and I have done that by blogging anonymously as 'Badgerdown'. I started my own blog and I think it is unique from many blogs in the way that I write about almost everything and anything- I have even shared my poetry on it. I measure success a little differently than the writing success of Mr. Lewis... whose novels, nonfiction and even the mass of correspondence with friends and fans are almost legend to those who knew and study him. I am writing which is something that I really enjoy. And, by blogging, I am learning to express myself not only through my writing but how to express myself to others. I have tried to write about things that I don't understand and learned how to research so that I do develop some true understanding. And in learning how to research I too have really been able to explore my faith and what I believe... and really determine why I believe what I do. Writing has helped me to be more successful in my self introspection and in learning to communicate better with other people. And seeing someone be so successful at writing and in living his faith is inspiring to me and makes me feel motivated to try harder to be successful myself. I want to write a book and I have started collecting research on the Spanish Civil War which is a topic that I am interested in – not sure how many other people are interested though. :D I feel successful at writing because I feel more confident as I continue, my blog gives me an unknown audience from around the world (literally), and I learn so much which is a joy for me and is part of what makes me feel like I am successful. Writing was not something I imagined that I could do successfully as an adult and while I may never really make money from it, this author's example and dedication have shown me that I can but try. And while trying, I think I have done a pretty good job!

One last similarity that I have found and thought I would discuss was the loss of of marital partners. C.S. Lewis married Joy Gresham and when they were married he knew she was dying of cancer. That didn't change his grief and anger at her death. In his struggle, he wrote a journal that became a book about grief. That book has really helped me to find a voice and an understanding of my current grief. I have not lost my husband to death or to cancer- I have lost him to his depression and through the stresses of raising a special needs child and my failures. I have found that many of my feelings seem to be the same as the ones that Lewis describes.8 I feel anger at the unfairness of it all, grief for my loss, fear over the future, uncertainty about how to precede... and a discomfort around others who do not understand. His words, while making me cry, also lift me up. I feel so much less alone and I see that it is possible to get through grief... it is simply a stage of life and a growing experience. Time does go on and it is possible to work within my self and my faith to rise to the challenge. I feel less alone as others have tread the path of my emotions (which at times lately feel bi-polar) and they have survived... Lewis describes getting through grief as a person who has lost a limb- even with help they will not be the same ever again. And I agree with him. I will never view life or its challenges in the same way that I did before. In some ways I feel like I have lost the most important part of myself and I do not see that any replacement could be as good or even as wonderful as my original 'limb'. But I will still have enough to move on with... I will still have the capacity for joy... I will still have the world and my friends and my faith to sustain me.

In conclusion, I think I have shown many of the reason that C.S. Lewis has been such an inspiration and motivating force in my life. While I have not taken the time to show all the parallels I saw between the two of us, I have tried to highlight the most important ones to me. This exercise was helpful to me in a few ways. One way is that I was able to articulate some things that I do not chat about with almost anyone... that is a different experience for me. I also enjoyed the opportunity to really study someone that I admire and to learn more about his life and not just 'selfishly' stick to contemplating, devouring and consuming his thoughts. Thank you for this assignment and I hope that I have completed it well.


Highlights from my Summer

Boy, this has been a crazy year... for me at least. But even with the yuckiness and the trials that have caused me much distraction and grief, I have had some brief moments of awe and joy. I thought I would share a few and it comes as no surprise to me that most of these moments contained animals or nature in them. So here they are:

1. I got to spend a bit of time weeding this summer for some extra money. The time out in the sun was wonderful and I got to really see a few fun things. I got to see a monarch butterfly,

The longest worm ever!

Small juvenile foxes running along the road looking for food....

Frogs with amazing voices- loud and clear!

Large spiders just hanging out in midair....

Huge amounts of ants and pupae moving along the ground....

Tiny toads in the grass.

Newts hiding in the grass and the wet

And the smallest slug I have ever seen in my life!

A few things were really memorable and remind me why I live in a rural area. I saw:

a hidden duck nest

huge blossoming plants of daisies... they are my favorite flower!

Seals near the shore where I was working. They would come several morning in a row and just play in the surf and the shallows. It was beautiful and I am sorry that I wasn't able to get a picture except for the disturbance in the water after the seal have reentered the water.

The pasture that I have been trying to grow is doing very well... almost too well as the plants grow so quickly and thick that I do not keep up and I end up with grasses and flowers as tall if not taller than me.

I had some of the priesthood over to cut wood late this summer and it was such a blessing. It was also amazing to see how much wood so many of them would carry at once. It makes me smile. :)

Bug had a great summer. Our blackberry bushes were abundant and he enjoyed filling large containers of berries.

Bug also experimented with making donuts and I was the happy recipient of his labors. He happily fed me donuts until I didn't feel like I could eat any more. It was wonderful!

How was your summer? Do you have an experience that was wonderful and inspiring that you would like to share? What blessings did you have?


What Motivates me to be a Leader and other Thoughts....

I have a few different thoughts on the first question; about what motivates me to be a leader. A few weeks ago, my easy answer would have been that nothing motivates me to be a leader and that I do not want to be one (leader). One thing I have learned is that whether I want to be a leader or not I am a leader. I am a mom... for a little while I will still be a wife... and I have a life and a spark and an energy that should be used and not squandered in confusion, misunderstanding and self pity. So what motivates me to be a leader...? Well, if I am going to be a leader (understanding that I will be a leader whether I 'want' to or not') I want to be the best leader that I can. I want to make change and help others and bring financial security to myself. I want to set up my life in a way that I am utilizing the little time I have on this planet to the best of my abilities at the time... and hope that as I try, my abilities will become honed and more able to tackle the difficulties that I will face in my future. There is a line in book six of the 'Harry Potter' series where Harry and Dumbledore are discussing the prophecy that has caused Lord Voldemort to chase Harry his whole life. In that paragraph, Dumbledore discusses the idea that Harry does have choices and he is not bound to follow the prophecy. At that time, Harry realizes that he has made a choice... and even though that choice was difficult and had large consequences attached to it, he smiles because while the situation hasn't changed... how Harry looks at it has. And as the character states : 'that makes all the difference in the world.' I feel in some ways that I am in a parallel situation... minus the mortal danger from Voldemort, that is. :) I can see myself as being forced into choices by other people... or I can see that they are making their choices and while those choices do affect me and my life, I can see how to make my own decisions. I can look at the situation less personally, more critically and see the blessings and positives that shine out of the gently woven tapestry of my life that seem s currently dark, drab, and limited. Even changing my mindset to look for the changes is a metaphoric golden thread that can help bring light and opportunities into my life.

I have several sources of motivation that I have been able to discover in my life. I think that a few might be more prescient right now and might even be motivations that everyone has because they are more instinct than motivation. I will have to let you be the judge. One thing that motivates me is my severe sensory issues. I do not always understand why I do some of the things that I do and why I do or do not like some things. Over the last few years as I have discovered that I do have sensory problems that that some of the things I do are considered truly 'normal' for someone with my condition who hasn't been treated, I have discovered that my body and mind instinctively react in ways that are not truly necessary or positive. However, rationally understanding this fact doesn't change the way my body/ mind react to a sensory assault. Some things such as smells I have worked really hard and have made progress on getting past the difficulties that they can give me. Some things such as water and noise, I have made little to no progress on and will probably need professional help to overcome. Along with the sensory problems is my gluten allergy- so severe that a small exposure can set me back 20 pounds in one week and take quite literally months to recover from. The motivation to stay safe from both sensory and food hazards is a huge motivator for me and I limit myself in many ways due to my concern and fear of pain, discomfort, and instinctive reactions that are not entirely under my control. (One reason I know that these two things are highly motivating is that I am willing to overcome a few other challenges to put them first in my mind. I try to hide in groups and be the same and blend in... but if confronted with something that challenges my sensory system or potential gluten exposure, I will stand up and stick out until I feel the situation is safe again or I have left. I am the person on the airplane that will make sure that nobody in several rows around me gets to eat a sandwich which doesn't make me very popular... but it keeps me safe and well. : D ) One other motivation is work- I truly like to be busy and I enjoy working towards goals or helping other people. Service is a big motivator for me and I really like how I feel afterwords.... like a little spark has been kindled in my heart and that I truly deserve a small break to enjoy the glow from the spark and a brief rest- I think that brief spark could be called joy. I m motivated to earn money and I am willing to do almost anything to earn it so that I feel secure. I think this motivation would be less strong if I did have more financial means and I wasn't always struggling to just hold my head about water. So I am a jack- of -all -trades and I work for the post office when they need me, teach CPR and first aid a few hours a week, take on freelance genealogy jobs, and I use websites to not only help me save money, but to earn a little bit as well. I am selling some of my belongings through Uncle Henry's and Ebay and I sometimes help people with some shopping for a little extra cash. On top of that add school and if I seem frazzled... well, I am! :O I am motivated by external concerns such as good grades, social status, what others say they think of me... and I am also motivated by a sense of satisfaction at a job well done. I feel inspired to help whenever anyone seems to need help … even if I am not sure what to do. I feel motivated sometimes in such a strong manner towards helping someone or working that I can often puss myself past my physical limit- in some ways my spirit is too willing... and my flesh too weak. ; )

I have quite a few extrinsic motivations if I think about it and look at my former thoughts. I am motivated my money, winning over others, teaching (which can be a form of power), and social status in the form of positive 'carrots'- I need to have good grades, feel liked, get praise, etc... Those carrots are very important for my happiness and to minimize my chronic case of low self esteem. If I was to place these motivations into an order from the most motivating to the least, the list would look a bit like this:
1. Social Status
2. Monetary Compensation
3. Winning Over Others
4. Having Power
There are so many traps that I could find myself entangled in through these extrinsic motivations. I can see myself doing things for money which could violate my personal or religious code as well as the laws of my community. I can see myself being willing to do things to please others that do not please myself... simply to feel that I have made someone else happy or made their lives easier. I defer to people that I have a perception of having a higher social status- which can have its ironies considering my liberal and feminist bent. I defer to people that I see as more knowledgeable than myself, have titles such as Dr., Professor, etc... and I also defer to all men in priesthood roles in my church (this can be a bad thing and isn’t necessarily church doctrine... I think I learned that at home as a child and even my liberal feminist bent hasn't changed that pattern of thinking.) Some of the ways to avoid becoming trapped in these external cycles of motivation are easy to state, but not as easy to put into practice. Working on understanding myself and developing appropriate self esteem would help me to avoid the problems that I can develop from doing things that other's want that I am not sure are a good idea. Developing confidence and self esteem will make it more possible to say 'no' and feel comfortable with my decision no matter what the reaction it provokes. Sometimes I think I say 'yes' so that people do not get mad... or I am concerned that they will not like me... but sometimes the answer really should be 'no.' One important way to avoid getting lost in some of these external traps is to recognize where your weakness are. By understanding the difficulty I have in one area (such as saying 'no'), I can recognize situations easier that might be a problem for me. Understanding my weaknesses can help me to learn compensatory techniques and also ways to deal with my difficulties. It is impossible to work with and understand a weakness that a person doesn't actually understand or acknowledge that they have. That's my thoughts at any rate.

I seem to have a good mixing of intrinsic motivations as well. I feel excited and inspired to help others, I feel joy at a job well done, I want to be true to my beliefs, and I like to be surrounded with people that I care about and people who care about me. If I was to place these motivations into an order from the most motivating to the least, the list would look a lot like this:

1. Making a difference in the world
2. Being associated with people I care about and care about me
3. Helping others
4. Satisfaction in my work and private life
5. Being true to my beliefs

Looking at these lists side by side – I actually printed them out and lay the paper in front of me to study- I found a few interesting things. The first that seemed fairly obvious is that my external motivations are really almost at 'war' with my internal motivations. Social Status and monetary compensation when put first (as I have done) on the list doesn't really compute with the first two on my internal motivations list. The first list (extrinsic motivations) appears to be more of what I tend to follow when push comes to shove... and that is a shocking realization for me. In fact, that seems fairly shallow and self centered... and those words are not words I would ever have thought to use to describe myself. It appears to me that I need to take some time to look at both of these lists more fully and really look at the major motivator behind most of my extrinsic motivations- which appears to be fear. In the past I have recognized that I have some aspects of fear in some parts of my life, but I do not think I have recognized until now how much fear actually rules my life and my choices.

After chewing on the ideas that I mentioned above I thought of a few situations in my life where I have had trouble: i.e, I had conflicts between my external and internal motivations. Looking at those situations I seem to have found a pattern. If pushed too hard, the external motivations were given first shot and I rarely felt very satisfied with the outcome. In fact, I didn't feel satisfied or happy at all... and maybe that is the point. Maybe I need to get past my fear to stick up for myself and others and that will help me to find my joy and 'sweet spot.' I really think that the major reason that I do cave to people is fear and while the reasons for the fear maybe different in these situations... its effects are the same. I feel closed off, unhappy, confused, and certainly unsure and sometimes I feel too much pressure and I just want to run. I haven't run for years though... that's a good step!

I then tried to take both lists and put them together in the 'true' order that I think they are actually formulated in my life- as I doubt we divide our thought and actions into separate lists very often. Here is what the finished product looked like. It actually changed quite a bit in the thought process. An asterisk shows an intrinsic motivation.
1. Having power (this moved to the top because I began to see power as a form of control... and if you are fearful you are more likely to control the things around you and have that need to control. And the more I thought about it, this placement made more sense.)
2. Monetary Compensation (as long as I feel poor and unable to even buy the medicines to keep me healthy I think this will always rank high... especially as I seem to have proven to myself that I am willing to work long hours for little compensation.)
3. Helping Others *
4. Being associated with people I care about and care about me*
5. Social Status
6. Making a difference in the world*
7. Winning over others
8. Satisfaction in my work and private life *
9. Being true to my beliefs *
I did wonder if because of the way I interpreted power if it should be both asterisk free and have an asterisk, but I did leave it asterisk free for now.

Unfortunately, I am not really sure that I am very impressed with the above list. Oh well... at least it was as honest as I could make it due to my thoughts and understanding. :) I think I have several capabilities and strengths. I am not afraid of work and I have a love of learning. I am fairly tolerant and very generous to others. I am great at bringing a smile to the face of other people and working to listen and help in the areas that people feel most needy. I am quite loyal and even when someone has caused me great difficulty and even rejected me and who I am , I find it easy to continue in some ways supporting them and doing the things they need. :) I think I am also pretty strong and can function and sustain a fairly large emotional and physical load for a long period of time which gives me more options and solutions of problems than some people have. I have a great deal of experience with dealing with people in crisis and with serious difficulties- such as substance abuse, domestic violence, mental illness, developmental disabilities and poverty.

But I would be remiss if I didn't mention some of my challenges and weaknesses. I do not have a lot of confidence in myself and I am very likely to place my trust in others even if I am not really comfortable with their conclusions. I find myself sometimes forgoing the care of myself to help someone else... which in the long run affects both me and the other individuals negatively. I have some difficulties with consistency and I do have a strong emotional base that I can find quite difficult to hide at times... especially in situations where I feel hurt, threatened or harmed.

So looking at my strengths and my listed motivations, here is a list I came up with for areas where the two groups seem to combine or can be blended.
1. I have a great need to help others out of poverty and to help myself out of poverty as well.
2. I have experience and a great love of helping people in difficult circumstances get out of those circumstances.
3. I am strong and can help someone with difficulties for a long time so that they can have help consistently for a better and more positive outcome over the long term.

It seems to me that there are a few situations where I would be quite successful and find some joy and peace in my decisions.
1. I could work towards becoming a foster parent for developmental disabled children and even a long term adoptive parent.
2. I could finish my degree and get work as a social worker in areas that I have strengths in such as children, substance abuse, child protective services, and mental illness.
3. I could start a not for profit for helping children and adults with disabilities in my area have the resources that they need to be more successful, more healthy, and to be more productive members of society.

There are probably other things that I could do, but these were the few that not only first came to mind, but have been popping into my head over the last few weeks as ideas for my future that seem reasonable and I also find fairly exciting and energetic about. All three would take a huge amount of time, energy, and also would require that I expend a bit of time, energy and focus on continued building of my strengths and capabilities. All three would require learning and development in areas that I do have strengths but not necessarily the knowledge that is needed. I would also need to work with people who do not necessarily think like me and have strengths and difficulties in different areas of their lives which can help me to grow in understanding, generosity, and joy. This list helps me to feel hopeful and also seems to be helping me to discover a new direction in my life which sounds difficult and challenging, but worthwhile, exciting and downright fun and rewarding. I have already started to make priority lists for all three to ponder and really think about to see where my energy and time should best be focused. Some parts of the future look quite exciting now. :)


A Visit to the Provo Temple

I went to the temple on Friday. I was determined to go on this trip, but I will admit that even though the temple is closer in Utah... it doesn't seem closer when you are surrounded by family you never see. But everything came together and I went.

This visit was a jumble of emotions. I haven't gone into the temple for years and so I was surprised to find that I was actually quite scared. I am not sure why I was scared... I wondered if I was scared because of a combination of the unknown (it has been a long time), first time in a while (I really wonder with everything going on in my life if I can possibly be worthy- It sometimes doesn't seem possible), and the feeling of so many differing emotions as I approached and waited in the temple. But it was wonderful and there were so many small blessings. The people who helped explain to me what I needed to do and showed caring and concern and a wonderful smile. The gentleman who looked at my recommend and thanked me so much for coming... and then called me by name when I left- he actually came around the counter to shake my hand and to give me a short blessing for my day. I found myself crying sometimes and I wasn't sure why... but it was good. I really want to go again at least once. This is such a blessing at this time in my life. An opportunity to serve others, meditate and to simply feel the spirit is so wonderful. The idea that every name belongs to a person... a person that lived before... that every person has a name and is known to the Father. It was simply a blessing to listen and remember that the Father does know us all... even me.


A Day of Travel...

Today was a different day. I will admit that as recently as a week ago my plans for the next few months were pretty much strictly set and ready to enforce. And then I got a gluten exposure and became so sick that I lost a baker's dozen worth of pounds, stopped sleeping and then discovered that my last grandmother is gone. So instead of rigidly working on things I have thrown together a bag and I am flying out to Utah. It feels so strange to be doing this- a part of me feels like I have almost run away from my responsibilities. But I am determined to use this opportunity that has been thrown into my path. I brought some homework as well as some work for mailing and I am ready to continue on with much of the work that is currently engaging my time. I also have a few goals and I hope that maybe some of my family will be willing to help me out with them. Here they are: 1. I would like to go to the family history center in Salt Lake for one day and do research on a few things. I have a genealogy job to complete as well as some questions to answer about some work that I have been doing. I have three lines that I am working on from three different families and it would be awesome to get a little bit farther on with those! 2. I have a list of a few things that I wish to get from the Distribution Center for some members at church and myself. A trip to a bookstore wouldn't be out of the question either... ;). I love the talk tapes that I got last time I was in Utah and the best ones for me seemed to be on the clearance rack so I am hoping to be blessed in that regard again. I am sure that my church library would love me to be lucky too. :) 3. I brought my temple recommend and I would like to go to the temple at least once. My preference is a minimum of two times as going to the temple at home is a little tougher and I will not be attending my temple trip this Saturday... as I will be in Utah! It seems perfectly foolish to be so close to several temples and not to take advantage of this opportunity. I am blessed that a kind member mentioned the temple in passing to me on Sunday- otherwise, I think I would have forgotten my recommend entirely as I was so focused on getting down to Utah and what it would entail planning wise. But I brought it and I would love to take advantage of the opportunities that are available. 4. I want to spend some good time with family. I desperately want to see that they are good and healthy... and maybe I am in need of some assurance that even though I have problems I am a good person and that people want to be around me. Silly, but there are my cards flat out on the table. 5. I do so want to get my hair cut and styled. Something that helps me to feel beautiful and different than the tired and well worn mother that I am. While traveling today has been exhausting, I have had many blessings and fun. My alarm didn't go off but I managed to get up and get going pretty quickly. I got my library books and the CPR mannequins dropped off and managed to get to a friend's house without hitting the slowly lumbering skunk that was crossing the road on the Brooklin border. The skunk was a juvenile- could tell from the stripes and he was smallish- and that poor skunk didn't seem to have any idea of how to deal with my car. So he simply stopped looking at me and kept plodding along... isn't that something cats do- close their eyes or not look at you in the hopes that you will not see them? It was quite cute. My beautiful friend got me to the airport and I was able to get on the flight. I tried to chat with some people and was friendly and actually had fun. I was overwhelmed by the views out of the windows of the plane and by the sheer quantity of space and people. It amazes me every time I leave Maine and I think that is a clue as to why I love Maine so much. If I am weird, there are fewer people to notice. I can mow my lawn in the nude and only a rare coincidence would turn it into an embarrassment. I can feel Heavenly Father closer because I can hear his creations more than the machines of men. And I become one of those creations. The views of Philadelphia that seemed to stretch as far as my eye could see- Phoenix is so flat that the views of the city and suburbs appeared never ending through the windows of the jet. The portions of the grand canyon that I could see were awe inspiring but also a little boring... after all, it seemed fairly small and from my height some portions simply looked like large rips in the earth. :). Seeing the mountains again was wonderful too. I have completed some homework, finished a book and even had a little food that I packed to eat... including four cupcakes. (So I should probably watch my diet for the next week as that was a week's worth of desserts that security wasn't sure I should bring through. They kept me remarkably full though and were absolutely decadent. :). I had my bag checked for free and so I didn't have to carry it around and enjoyed the free juice and the dry air. So... Salt Lake City. Here I come!


You Might Be Almost Ready to be a Teacher if...

I was just doing some homework for one of my classes (the French Revolution) when one of my fellow classmates sent me a note about my homework that simply made my day. Most of his comment will not make sense to many of you ... who are not struggling to hold your head on through the constant studying and the 'swish of the guillotine', but it totally made me smile. I would really like to work on becoming a teacher and I think that I will make it a little bit of a higher priority in my life. I also like writing and it was so nice that I could condense a lot of confusing mumbo jumbo into something that was instructive... and even likeable. Maybe I am getting a lot closer to my goal of writing and teaching- I might even be closer than I think. Here's the comment:

Hi Sonia - I think I'll just read your post - it's a lot clearer than my book. In any case - After the smoke cleared and the heads stopped rolling the old patriarch was - what's the phrase "called to life" For me it was a discouraging end. But as you have articulated, woman were generally a lot better off. I'm looking it up now as I write here - yes- the Legislative Assembly - They seemed to have the welfare of woman clearly in mind when they authorized divorce. It could be applied both ways ,I know, but somehow I think it befitted woman more than men. And wow -they eliminated penalties for homosexuality -I mean how cool is that? This by the way was about the same time That the French woman addressed the National Assembly (doc. F page 60) . It seems that this address marked the high water point in womans' struggle for equal rights. If only the story ended there - Anyway I'm brain dead for lack of a better -enjoyed your comment

What are the things that excite you about education? What would you do if you had a new shot at how your life continues...? And please, share thoughts on how someone made your day. It was just a little thing... but it really meant a lot to me. :)


2011 Poetry Corner # 2 : Frogs

Every poem I have ever posted on here I have written myself. This is my first departure from that tradition.

The other day I was out and about doing errands and I stopped at a recycle center. While I was doing my recycling I saw one of those school notebooks in the recycling pile and I pulled it out. The notebook was empty and ready to use with the exception of six pages. All six pages had the same poem written on them. I am not sure I like the poem, but it was very interesting and I didn't think it deserved the ignoble death that it was about to suffer so I brought it home and I copied it here – I felt it was at least worthy of discussion. I will take it down at the author's request and have left the poem true to the author's format! :)

Frogs – written by Norman MacCaig

Frogs sit more solid
than anything sits. In mid leap they are
parachutes falling
in a free fall. They die on roads
with arms across their chests and
heads high

I love frogs that sit
like Buddha, that fall without
parachutes, that die
like Italian tenors

Above all I like them because
pursued in water, they never
panic so much that they fail to make
stylish triangles with their ballet dancers

What are your thoughts?


Women and the French Revolution

While I have been studying the French Revolution over the last few weeks, I have discovered many things that I did not know about the beginnings and the development of the national government and the revolution itself. While I imagined it to be quite bloody and difficult, the study of it has been a bit of an eye opener and sometimes when I close my eyes now at night, I see blood pooling and running across cobblestones in my dreams. And of course, I see Sidney Carton being driven to the guillotine saying those famous words that many literates know... even if they have never read Charles Dickens. This week I tried to focus on the women in France at this time, their role in the revolution and some of their experiences.

The conditions of women did change from what they had been before the revolution. As could be expected, some changes were positive, some were negative, and some things didn't really change much at all for long periods of time. It must also be said that because the French revolution was actually a long time (a decade or more in fact) change was the word of the day... and so some changes would come and go based on the people in charge of the government at the time.

Politically, women received a mixed bag. For instance, women were excluded from politics during the French Revolution- at least in an active or electoral role. That didn't stop women from forming or joining political clubs in the early 1970's. One group formed in May 1973 was called the 'Society of Revolutionary Republican Women' and was led by Claire Lacombe. Women were involved in politics by speaking to the National Assembly (Etta Palm d'Aeldes in 1791), writing satires such as the 'Declaration of the Rights of Women' written by Olympe de Gouges, and in demonstrations where they demanded rights including the right to bear arms- a right only given to males at that time. Women's participation in clubs and demonstrations reached its peak in the spring and summer of 1793. By November 1793, the Montagnard Convention had banned all political activity by women and this closed most of the political clubs attended by women. One excuse that was used to keep women out of politics was the assassination of journalist Jean-Paul Marat at the hands of Charlotte Corday in July 1793- her assassination of this paranoid journalist turned martyr upon his death was used to point out women's emotions, lack of control, etc. (It didn't help that it was discovered that she was a virgin and her behavior could not be blamed on 'whoredoms' or wantonness.) Women who spoke out for more rights were considered to have spoke out against the revolution and were put to death by the guillotine. It must also be stated that women participated in many of the early and continuing demonstrations and violent uprisings- female participation helped to radicalize the revolution in 1789. In a twist, by 1794, women were prominent in protests that showed loyalty to traditional religious beliefs (the Catholic church) throughout the last years of the revolution.

When it came to giving more legal rights to women, it can be said that the revolution had a more positive effect. In an attempt to break up the power of the Catholic church, the French government (or really the National Assembly) took over registration of births, deaths and marriages. Divorce was also authorized and the new laws gave men and women equal rights to initiate a divorce and divorces could also be had on grounds as simple as mutual consent. Women were also granted the ability of equal inheritance in family law which was also an attempt to help make men and women more equal in standing.

Looking at the daily life of French women during this time, things were not really positive. The breakup of the convents abolished one large sphere that religious women had to live largely without male dominance. The removal of the privileges of the aristocrats/nobles virtually eliminated the wealthy female patronesses who had played a prominent role in French culture. And if you look at the huge numbers of convicted traitors, the numbers of women in violent insurrections, and the multitude of mass killings of suspected traitors... it is safe to assume that women died in very large numbers. In at least one large uprising (the September Massacres), it is documented that women were raped and killed. One reason I see it as safe to assume the large numbers of death of women is that France doesn't appear to have a huge problem with 'gender overpopulation' in the next few decades (at least as far as I have been able to research it. After WWII, I think France did have a gender overpopulation problem due too the number of men who died in the war...) Secret police could use almost anything you said or even your attitude against you and as many of them hung out eavesdropping in places such as bread lines, the vast majority of people in those lines would be women.... so they would be the ones accused and executed. Some sources suggest that republican troops killed civilians indiscriminately at times which would include women... and children.

In conclusion, women's lives changed in many ways during the revolution. Many of the changes, such as the Terror, were 'temporary' and didn't live on for long. Some changes, such as the new changes in family law, lived on with both positive and negative effects. In many respects women are able to be involved in new experiences, but they are also more likely to be punished for stepping out of their 'traditional sphere' then men... although many men were certainly punished! The revolution brought women the hope of more equality, more opportunities, but it also brought women as a whole into more danger, less security, and for some women, fewer opportunities than they had been accustomed to before the revolution. I think that some changes were not allowed to occur- such as voting rights- because women were still feared, still considered in some ways inferior and that was too radical a notion for the time.... after all, even many enlightenment thinkers didn't go that far. :)


How Well Do You Know Yourself?

In one of my classes, we were given this quiz from the book "True North". It was a really interesting quiz and the rules are that you take the quiz yourself... and then give a few copies to trusted friends or family and ask them to rate you. (Remember, you can't get angry at them if they don't answer the way you want to! This is to help you grow :) I have put the quiz here so that you may try it!

Rate yourself from 1 to 10 – with 10 being very, 5 being moderately and 1 being barely

How self confident are you?

How aware are you of your moods and emotions?

How effective are you in regulating your moods to minimize their impact on other people?

When confronted with situations that are displeasing to you, how well do you take the time to think clearly about them before responding or reacting?

When you receive critical feedback from others, how well are you able to take in the feedback and respond in a constructive manner without acting defensively?

How well do you understand the emotional makeup of others and their needs?

How sensitive are you in relating to other's needs and helping them?

How skillful are you in building lasting relationships?

How well do you network with others and create networks of people with common interests?

How effective are you in leading teams?

Do others follow your lead voluntarily?

How persuasive are you in convincing others of your mutual interests?

How do your answers compare to the answers from your family/friends? Is there something that you would change about yourself? What are your thoughts?


French Revolutionaries and Analysis on Minority Rights

After reading and studying the 'Declaration of Man' last week, I really wanted to try and figure out what the people who wrote the document meant by it. For instance, it seems obvious through language that the word man means all men, but it did not. So here are some thoughts on the research that I did and what I think the thoughts of the revolutionaries might have been.

To start, I will admit that I am not really sure about what the revolutionaries thoughts about rights for free Negroes in the Caribbean colonies and non-Christian groups within France. What does seem clear is that if you lived in the French Caribbean colonies, you tended to lean more towards an appreciation of slavery an if you lived in the country of France, then you tended to feel that slavery was not totally positive- I make this statement based on the idea that after an uprising in Saint-Domingue in 1791, the Assembly in May of that year passed a decree that gave full citizenship rights to all free nonwhite males born to free parents in a French Colony. This concession is clearly limited and didn't apply to any nonwhite male slaves not to non white who were free but had parents who were considered slaves, but this concession was considered unacceptable to the French (white) citizens of the colonies and they lobbied hard to have the decree annulled. (It appears that they would have been successful if not for the great slave rebellion in September 1791 that occurred again in Saint-Domingue and lead to the eventual abolition of slavery in 1794 and the colony's independence from France several years later.) The writer Montesquieu wrote in “The Spirit of Laws” many things suggesting that slavery is an affront to natural law, he also wrote that in some situations it can be justified- one quote states '… It is hard to believe that God, who is such a wise Being, should place a soul, especially a good soul in such a black ugly body.....The Negroes prefer a glass necklace to that gold which polite nations so highly value. Can there be a greater proof of their want of common sense? It is impossible for us to suppose these creatures are men because, allowing them to be men, a suspicion would follow that we ourselves are not Christian.' I will admit that I read the document three times and I think that I still do not understand what the writer meant, but it does appear to me that these statements give a justification of exploitation and slavery based on skin color, looks, and assumptions. Any thoughts from classmates who actually understood what Montesquieu meant are certainly welcome as I won't pretend that I did. :)

What does seem clear is that as enlightened as many of these revolutionaries were, they still had to deal with their own traditions and prejudices, the biases of others, and it is unreasonable to expect that they could literally change the world in a matter of weeks in regards to all the prejudices and class biases that existed at that time. What they did accomplish was pretty extraordinary in itself. Until the revolution, it appears that religious belief was an important characteristic that helped determine your citizenship; i.e., if you were Catholic you were a citizen and if you were anything else you were not. The revolution started the change in this by granting limited citizenship rights to all French Protestants in 1787- two years before the writing of 'The Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen'. It is a little telling that it took an additional four years to grant the majority of French Jews citizenship rights in September of 1791... especially as I realized that the some of the nonwhite males of the French colonies were given citizenship rights four months previously. Another requirement for citizenship was that you had to be male, so this certainly left women out. :) I believe that another requirement was that you had to be born in France- so immigrants would never have any way of becoming a citizen. Any way you look at the process of trying to open up opportunity and rights to a majority that had not had then, it was not an easy process.

I suspect one reason that these particular groups were not naturally included and were considered separately is simply because in almost all aspects of life they were already looked at separately. Other groups such as the poor while separate,... in many ways looked like their group. Many white men were poor, etc... Non whites and Jews looked different, had different cultures, even different religions, making these groups seem more suspect and not immediately brought to the forefront. So these groups had to be considered separately when their plight or need for rights was brought to the attention of the Assembly. Otherwise, they hadn't been considered due to the tradition biases and prejudices of the revolutionaries in power. The one exception appears to be white protestants- their break with the traditional religion was not a hindrance and in fact seemed to be an asset in light of the anti-Catholic Enlightenment atmosphere of the time.

What are your thoughts? How do you think that our country which had the same difficulties as France has overcome them? Do you think that we have overcome them....?