On June 16, in celebration of Harley Davidson’s 110th anniversary, hundreds of bikers descended on Vatican City to listen to communal mass and receive the Pope’s blessing. The blessing may have come as a shock to some, especially given Harley’s new marketing campaign of “Live life on your own terms. More than 30 ways to defy the status quo.” The Catholic Church has rarely been seen as an institution that supports those of a “rebellious” nature, or anything that goes against the status quo, given that the Bible is its Bible. But nonetheless, thousands of riders listened solemnly and the Pope blessed them sincerely.
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The Pope’s blessing does seem to fall into traditional Christian doctrine by accepting a group that has been cast to society’s margins. With open arms, he accepted the culture that has been branded as reckless good-for-nothings by society’s misunderstanding. Sure, many motorcyclists are happy to accept the role of outsider or, more affectionately, vagabond, as advertising proves, but it can often have negative real-life consequences. As motorcycle accident lawyers, we actively fight this misrepresentation in nearly every case we deal with. Because, like it or not, juries may take it into account. Motorcyclists unjustly carry with them a hindering stigma, even if an accident is zero percent their fault. Often times, this results in lower compensation to treat sometimes permanent injuries, both physical and mental. But if the Pope can bless motorcyclists, especially an American company and its riders who face more prejudice at home than in most other places in the world, then there must be hope that soon enough that stigma will dissipate. I am tempted to make a motorcycle-riding Jesus joke, but I must resist temptation as I think the Pope would agree. Unless he thought it’d be funny, too. But who knows. Only God, I guess.