There seems to be a tacit assumption circulating that the unvaccinated, as well as being ‘probably racist’ (according to Canadian Prime minister Justin Trudeau), all have a rare case of highly-contagious, chronic Covid. An unvaccinated friend of mine was told by his grandparents that he could not attend their Christmas lunch unless he ‘ruddy well got vaxxed up!’ They wouldn’t risk their lives just because he wanted to be stubborn, selfish and racist. The grandson suggested he take a PCR test before his arrival at lunch to prove he would not be bringing Covid into the grandparents’ house. But confusingly, a negative test would not assuage the grandparents’ panic. No, he simply could not sit unvaccinated at their dinner table. So what is it the Australian government is ultimately frightened of? Is it the germs Djokovic proved he didn’t have or is it his stubborn will, his dangerous mindset, his thought-crime, if you will?
When the majority of the global population so swiftly agreed to this increasingly confusing, relatively ineffective and seemingly endless vaccination scheme, there was a sense of indignation seeing Djokovic so doggedly refuse to toe the party line. Freedom of choice is the reason Djokovic has given publicly in defence of refusing inoculation. In a New York Times interview in August 2020, he said: “I am not against vaccination of any kind because who am I to speak about vaccines when there are people that have been in the field of medicine and saving lives around the world? [but] if someone is forcing me to put something in my body that I don’t want… For me that’s unacceptable.” A proverb comes to mind: The simple man believes every word, but the prudent man watches his steps (Proverbs 14: 15). Perhaps it was his childhood in war-torn Serbia that taught Djokovic the importance of prudence, learning first-hand the world is unpredictable and powerful people, often crooked. Take every man at his word in war and you’re asking for trouble. And since no one enjoys feeling like a simpleton, the widespread, zealous mockery of Djokovic’s prudence doesn’t come as much of a surprise.
Many Australians interviewed on Sky news at the time of his detainment saw him to be arrogantly flouting the rules, undermining the sacrifices the average Australian is making in Australia’s interminable fight for transcendental safety. Those who don’t wish to be vaccinated, however, might see the reverse; Djokovic standing with them in solidarity. And in doing so, risking his reputation, his number one ranking and potentially his involvement in future grand slams. In the words of Spiderman’s uncle, ‘with great power comes great responsibility’. A care-home worker on minimum wage who will be sacked for refusing the vaccination does not have the same safety net as a world renowned tennis star. In order to continue to put food on the table, she must be vaccinated. Djokovic is using his clout on the world stage to draw attention to the unnerving reality we have sleepwalked into. The Australian Open will be a more boring affair without Djokovic’s incomparable skill. Fingers crossed the Australian Government will learn that if they want Djokovic’s prowess on their tennis courts, they will have to adjust their attitude towards the bodily autonomy and freewill of the Australian people.
The Catholic Health Association USA believe getting vaccinated is an act of loving for thy neighbour. On that, I would argue the jury is still out but in theory, sure. A braver and more selfless act of love for thy neighbour in the current climate is taking a stand against mandated vaccinations. If we allow mandated medical procedures to be the acceptable, we are walking blindfolded down a slippery slope. Refuse the vaccination and you face exclusion from society, estrangement from family, travel bans, diminished job opportunities. The list goes on. None of the above you would wish upon your neighbour if you were to love him as thyself. It is also worth mentioning that no athlete has given more to charity throughout the pandemic than Djokovic. To maintain his actions are selfish is to misconstrue his character and to misunderstand the wider argument on mandatory vaccination.
Some are saddened by Djokovic’s missed opportunity at breaking a world record, some probably rejoicing. Nadal or Federer may clinch the record-breaking title but I doubt either of their names will go down in history the way Djokovic’s will.
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