No Longer Surprised

By Arleen Lorrance

Having turned 77 in February, I am making this the year of realizing that nothing is surprising, everything simply is!

I am no longer surprised that people get pleasure out of hurting other people, or abuse babies, or conduct mass killings for the sake of gaining reputation and power. I look at such things and say, “Yup. People are capable of just about everything.”

I am no longer surprised that people have wild sex on their first date and get to know each other later, or not. Intimacy now exists devoid of meaning.

I am no longer surprised that a billionaire who advocates bankruptcy can whip up blue collar workers that can’t support their families on the minimum wage they receive. It seems people look to anyone for relief in their lives, even if he belongs to the 1% that dominates the financial scene. Most of them don’t even notice that he is a billionaire and part of the suppressive class.

I am no longer surprised that the general population is much like a herd of sheep which not only yields to the power of large corporations but which willing pays the corporations’ way as they exhibit their own impotence. One case in point is the airlines who have raked in billions of dollars in the last several years by imposing fees on everything except breathing and the multitudes who willingly pay.

I am no longer surprised by ignorance, by mesmerizing belief systems, by lives based on opinions, by the unconsciousness of those dazed and living in the dream rather than the reality.

What started thinking me about all this was a short piece in the travel section of the newspaper. It was entitled “Cruising at $10,000 a night? No Problem.” Registering my surprise, or should I say shock, that anyone would pay that, that anyone could afford to pay that, I took a breath and read on. Regent Seven Seas has a 750-passenger ship that boasts a suite that is 50% larger than the average house in the U.S.: 3,875 square feet with two bedrooms, a sprawling living room, and its own spa retreat with sauna, steam room, and treatment area. The ship will set sail in July 2016 and of the first 15 sailings there was only one suite available at the time of the writing, six months ago.

I couldn’t believe it. Why would anyone need that, or spend that, or have that to spend? I was actually able to answer my question very quickly. There are folks with so much money they have no idea what to do with it and companies such as Regent perform a great service by making such venues available. I shouldn’t have been surprised; it is truly appropriate in the nature of things, in the way life is.

The astounding wealth of the tiny percent of the one percent is made available by the 99 % who labor hard to produce the profits that sustain the few.

Before simply acknowledging the way it is and giving up being surprised, I admit to creating depression one day when I talked with a young woman who works at the service desk in my Safeway market.  She and her husband have five children; between the two of them they have four jobs. She told me things were better now because she herself used to have three jobs to make ends meet. I asked what she earns at Safeway: minimum wage. I gulped down my outrage. I reminded myself of the standard line these days, mostly issued by the Republican philosophy, “You can’t raise the minimum wage because those hiring would have to shut their doors.” For me this translates, “those with money would have to take in fewer profits” and that would be a travesty. The woman at Safeway would get a discount as an employee if she shopped there, but she doesn’t shop at Safeway because the prices are too high and she can’t afford it. Squelch outrage again. No wonder I created depression instead.

Family of seven, four jobs, none of those jobs near where they live juxtaposed with a couple spending $10,000 a night (!) on a cruise, in a suite no doubt cleaned by stewards earning minimum wage.

I have allowed myself to give up being surprised by such inequity because it is my antidote to lurking despair.