Oprah Winfrey gave the most compelling speech I have seen lately as she accepted the Cecil B DeMille award on Sunday night at the Golden Globes. She stood for values everyone admires. She stood for justice, for equality, for love, and for respect. She stood for the empowerment of women. She stood for empowerment that transcended race, culture, geography, and gender. She gave a message of passion and sentiment to inspire the crowds, especially when she addressed women’s empowerment and the #metoo awareness against the abuse of women campaign. However, she maintained a rather collective realistic tone when she said that some “phenomenal men” will also take part in taking everyone to the time when no one has to say #metoo again! For a Saudi spectator and backer of such human rights issues, I am inspired by every word of it. But how can we, as Saudi men and women, relate to this? and what does such a speech mean to us?!
The way I see it, Oprah gave the answer in her speech when she said: ” What I know for sure is that speaking your truth is the most powerful tool we all have”. Amen to that!
If you are Saudi and you are a subject of domestic abuse, for instance, speak your truth! Speak to family, speak to your fellow citizens, speak to social media, and speak to government agencies. Just speak up and do not fear your abuser, because you are not to blame. It is true the ride to getting the support you need inside Saudi Arabia on such topics might still be a bumpy ride, but pushing forward and fighting is not a choice for you because you are responsible for those who still suffer silently and are desperately waiting for someone to speak up and do what they were afraid to do.
If you are Saudi, and you have been subject to any form of injustice, speaking your truth is your most important tool because it helps set you free for starters. There might not be a lot of people who are willing to listen now, there might not be the adequate number of effective government and social support on such topics now, but soon there will be and anyone who did you badly will pay for what they did. What matters most is that you finally did it and you showed yourself and everyone else that you know who to blame on the matter, and it definitely is not you! Stand up for those who are in agony away from the light, be the voice they need, and speak your truth so that no one will be able to take away your rights and leave you to face the unknown, and then blame you for it! No! that time is up and it is never coming back!
If you are Saudi, you must listen! When a fellow citizen, a brother or a sister, wants to speak up, you must listen closely to their truth! They are in pain and they are trying to reach out a solution by speaking their truth which is their biggest hope for change, they are revealing to you their most valuable, most vulnerable pieces of their lives. Please have the courtesy and the love to listen till the end and help out without shutting them out in any way. You need to offer a welcoming hand, an open mind and if needed, a warm shoulder for them to cry on. If we all listen to one another’s problems without prior dispositions, many problems will seize to exist anymore because perpetrators will know that their target victim will speak up and the whole country would act to help them out. Government agencies will have to jump in to help as well given the pressure from the people. Society has to let go of the idea of shame in such topics. Nothing in our religion urges us to stay silent as we are treated in a harmful way. It urges us to speak up and so should our society. Any societal norms that do not adhere to this golden rule of speaking your truth should be broken. Now is the best time for such beliefs. Our country is undergoing great positive changes on all levels, and there has not been a time better than now to speak the truth as all prior notions and rules get challenged. King Salman and his crown prince MBS are willing to listen, so we should keep speaking up till all stakeholders, especially government agencies, know that they have responsibilities to live up to, and till problems not posted on twitter get solved promptly and properly as well!
” A new day is on the Horizon” Oprah said. Indeed it is. Our country is changing, it is getting a makeover. As that happens, we hold a responsibility to be true citizens of this great land and hold dear values of humanity. As we become better listeners, as we tolerate each other more and as we become a strong voice yelling out the truth of those weak among us, we will prevail. Justice will prevail. The true, loving, authentic and enhanced Saudi Arabia will prevail.