I know with this blog I’m venturing out of my own self-imposed and created parameters when it comes to blogging, but I could not pass this blog up.
First of all, I’m a huge Bob Dylan fan, and that’s why I included him as the cover pic for one of my blogs. Not only did he compose one of my favorite songs, “The Times They Are a Changin,” but with 46 years of living just a couple of months away, I’m somewhat old enough to see the rapid changes that society has experienced over the years, if not decades, yet still young enough to remember them and experience a few more before I move on to the next dimension. And being that Bob Dylan was called every name in the book for switching from acoustic to electric guitar, that only makes his lyrics that much more powerful.
So, today’s blog is the epitome of the times are changing.
For the first time, Saudi women will not only be allowed to drive a vehicle, but also ride a motorcycle. Think about that for a second…
In the United States we are used to seeing women live independently, whether socially or financially, and that includes riding motorcycles. On my first trip to Sturgis at Cheyenne Crossing, I remember seeing a group of four women riding their own motorcycles from Texas. I gave thought to how cool that was and impressive, not as impressive as how much personal belongings they packed on to their Harleys, but impressive nonetheless.
That was in 2012, but now in 2017, for the first time, women in Saudi Arabia can do the same thanks to social and economic reform being led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The Royal Decree takes effect in June 2018.
In part, this story interests me because I’ve had female friends visit Saudi Arabia, and I was told the stories of how they were harassed and cursed by men when seen driving, even though they are American women. But, the second reason this story interests me is simply because what motorcycle riding represents- freedom.
In 2005, I bought my first motorcycle; a Honda Goldwing.
While it may have seem as an impulsive purchase to some, in actuality, it was a plan in the making for more than two plus decades. I knew at some point I would ride a motorcycle, and that my first one would be a Goldwing.
Now, I will admit that prior to that, if you rode a motorcycle and told me “nothing beats the wind in your hair, wind therapy,” etc… I thought you were a buffoon and probably skipped your meds that day. There is no way a motorcycle could be the fix-all to everything that ails you. I hate admitting this; but I was wrong. I was naive at best. And you know why? Because riding a motorcycle is all that and more, plus a bag of chips and a cold beer.
When it comes to independence, the first thoughts that come to mind are not necessarily those situations that involve me. For one, I think of my father who is no longer here, and when I told him I was taking away the keys and he could no longer drive. Yeah, that role reversal thing, when all of a sudden we are the adult in the room and we are telling our parents what to do. It seems like only yesterday that I had a curfew.
But, just like my father did what had to be done to protect me, I did the same to him, and those that have been in similar situations will tell you taking away a parent’s opportunity to drive is taking away their freedom, and something they struggle to cope with.
On October 30, 1999, just a few hours before Halloween, I was officially a licensed attorney in the state of Florida. Since then, I’ve represented thousands of clients and have litigated hundreds of cases. And when you find yourself arguing on behalf of your client and you are only 26 years old, but the parties involved have been married longer than you have been alive, you learn to grow up quickly.
Just like with motorcycles, I was naive as to the way of the world. I didn’t know what a divorce was. It didn’t exist in my family! I grew up in a traditional Cuban town/neighborhood in Miami, and back then, divorces just didn’t exist. I didn’t even have friends whose parents were divorced.
Anyway, I was a quasi-partner in a law firm that worked in cases in volume, so handling five to ten divorces a day was the norm, as well has having three domestic violence trials per week. Dealing with so many divorces, I started to feel the blues every time the Judge affixed his signature to the Final Judgment, legally declaring that the bonds of matrimony had been dissolved.
I felt I was ripping families apart. Destroying the lives of innocent children. But, then I saw the smiles. The sighs of relief. Women and men hugged me. They thanked me for all that I had done. What had I done? I only did what I was legally and ethically obligated to do. Then it struck me, just like the familiar sound my Vance & Hines pipes make every time I crank up my Harley. I gave my clients freedom, independence.
And so now, after fighting against the status quo and injustice, women risked their own independence to guarantee the freedoms of others. Trusting that strangers would carry forward the torch of independence when they no longer could. Just like my clients trusted me, a total stranger to them. And for those women who fought hard for their independence, whether in the United States or abroad like countries in Saudi Arabia, I applaud your actions and respect your courage.
The changes will come fast. And while you will enjoy for the first time the benefits we take for granted like attending a movie theater or sports arena, take it from me, nothing will beat the wind in your hair as you lean into the curve and hit the throttle.
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