To the surprising nun Mariette is speaking to, the girl is at once an object of fervent compassion and the raw material of a psychotherapeutic experiment.
Among other unexpected things, Sister Sainte-Mechtilde is a highly trained specialist in psychiatric social work. Her order, the Sisters of Misericordia, w'as formed in Montreal more than a century ago to soften the afflictions of unmarried but pregnant women. Although the Misericordia Sisters have amplified their works to include hospitals, hostels, orphanages, teaching centres and retreats in many other parts of Canada and the U. Protestant, and come from other parts of Canada and the U.
A few, whose families can afford to send them, come from western Europe. Before she undertook her reconstruction of the Misericordia hostel system in , she studied the techniques of psychiatric social work for twelve years at three universities. Lately she has overcome even the severe difficulties posed by her flowing floor-length robes, and is already a creditable rock and roller and a dextrous cha cha cha-er.
With the same unabashed energy, Sister Mechtilde has cajoled, bullied and charmed politicians, executives, unionized tradesmen and medical and sociological technicians into helping build her villas, staff them and support them. Moreover, in radio talks, television interviews, press conferences and service-club speeches, continued on page Girls—protected by pseudonyms—are given courses the nun hope will help them. Sister Constance gives sewing lessons. To the Dominion Bureau of Statistics, Mariette, one of these allegedly pampered girls, is a cipher in a troublesome index.
The statisticians can only guess at the number of unreported illegitimate births. To the putative father of her child, a married businessman of forty-eight with two legitimate children older than Mariette herself, the thirteen-year-old expectant mother is an acute embarrassment and a potential threat. To her own father and to her mother, as both have made clear, Mariette is a fallen-woman-child who has injured herself and disgraced her family.
To her society, Mariette is a manysided anomaly: outcast, pitiable unfortunate, moral lawbreaker, social problem. By and large, society judges Mariette, finds her guilty, and adds a recommendation for leniency. Then it makes good the recommendation by supporting certain agencies that will provide her and her sisters with food, shelter and medical services — the Salvation Army hospitals and hostels, a few privately endowed maternity homes, some maternity hospitals.
This child, Mariette, is not typical of the many thousands of unmarried Canadian women w'ho become pregnant in the course of a year, nor is she typical of the seventeen hundred who seek out the Misericordia Sisters in Montreal for help. Nothing much is known of the larger number but of these last, in a not-unusual year, twenty-five percent are under nineteen; about thirty percent are between nineteen and twenty-one; fewer than fifteen percent are over twentyseven.
Mirth and Taxes
Almost thirty percent are returning to the Misericordia Sisters for their second, third or even fourth pregnancy. Six out of ten are factory or laundry workers, waitresses or domestic workers of one kind and another. The rest, except for unoccupied girls and students living at home — more than one out of ten — represent in small groups most of the usual feminine professions, including secretaries and cashiers, nurses and professors.
Most of such things as these disparate women have in common, Mariette shares; from the moment when she came, alone, to Boulevard St. Mariette was passed on to the social service bureau by the doctor who confirmed her pregnancy. Other girls are sent by their priests, their parents, family friends; some find the bureau themselves, or know the way from previous visits.
When they arrive, each of them, like Mariette, is interviewed by one of thirteen university-trained social workers. The black habit of the Misericordia order is present but unobtrusive, as are the habits of worship and religion. It is open only to girls between twelve and eighteen w'hose intelligence and attitude both give some hope that they can be helped to rebuild their self-respect and their initiative. If Mariette had been mentally retarded, or if her nature had appeared so incorrigibly cynical that she would interfere with the rehabilitation of the other youngsters, the social worker would have sent her to one of two hostels for adult women.
At the largest of these, the main section of the Boulevard St. Michel building that also accommodates the social service bureau, there are usually four groups of about fifteen women each and a fifth group of about twenty. At the second hostel for adults, a wing of the Misericordia general hospital on downtown Dorchester Street, there are between twenty and forty women depending on how' crowded the other hostels are.
The fourth Misericordia villa in Montreal, a well-preserved manor house surrounded by a w'alled garden in the riverbank suburb of Ste. Between eight and ten girls pay four dollars a day to share a double room or ten dollars a day for a private room. The guests fall, broadly, into two groups: girls with comparatively rich fathers who would otherwise send their daughters to Mexico or Europe to avoid scandal, or bachelor professional and businesswomen, most often in their late twenties or early thirties and well able to pay their own way. At Ste.
The only nun they ever see is an occasional visitor. Why the hatred? Fifty-three percent had taken out student loans, and 40 percent had benefited from Medicare. Clearly, the government has a marketing problem. The tendency of Americans to view taxes as the root of all unhappiness is odd for another reason. Some of the countries with the happiest citizens have tax rates that reach into the stratosphere. In the Netherlands, the top marginal tax rate is 52 percent, and applies to many citizens.
Into Happy Havens By Dennis Coates
In the United States, it is nearly 40 percent, and applies to a much smaller percentage of the population. Countries that have the happiest citizens tend to tax the rich more heavily. In a study of more than 50 countries, those with more progressive tax rates had happier citizens on average, even when controlling for overall wealth. The United States does not have a particularly progressive tax system, ranking in the bottom half of the world, alongside nations like Italy and Turkey.
Nevertheless, Americans rank quite high in happiness, indicating that the tax system is not the only thing that relates to satisfaction. Around the globe, people are happier in countries with progressive taxes because they are satisfied with the services those tax dollars provide, from education to public transportation.
Yet Americans fail to see their taxes as anything but wasted. So, what can the government do to make paying taxes a happier experience? In his State of the Union speech in , President Obama revealed that for the first time in American history, taxpayers would be able to see how their tax dollars were spent. You can do this at the White House Web site. While laudable, simply providing the data may not be enough to change tax attitudes.
Martin Hammond is an affable and ambitious manager at a hotel in Greater London. He is full of self-belief and feels confident that he can rise to the challenge of his demanding job, tackling any issues head on with success and flair..
The happy havens of Sister Mechtilde
But Martin is so driven to succeed in his job that he frequently fails to connect with those who work alongside him, his numerous members of staff - cleaners and cooks, receptionists and security - and to appreciate their problems and manage their professional wellbeing. Martin is utterly oblivious to his failings and his behaviour begins to irritate and alienate his staff and, in some cases, even his guests.
Martin's staff are starting to lose respect for him because he does so little to guide, incentivise or reward them in their daily tasks And with the arrival of a feisty young American tour guide called Naomi, Martin becomes even more distracted, louchly dissmissing his staff's various concerns. However, Martin's lax management style can't go on much longer; after it emerges that some members of the staff are stealing from the hotel.
Martin,feeling persecuted and hurt, sets out to show Head Office what he's really made of. Only when a truly gifted manager arrives can Martin really start to understand the error of his ways and build for the future. About the Author: Dennis Coates is a management lecturer and consultant, working with government and leading corporations..
He is the author of three non-fiction management texts but Into Happy Havens is his first novel..
Into Happy Havens
Coates lives in West Dorset. Convert currency. Add to Basket.