Over the weekend, I received the following message from a reader:
It seems Novak Djokovic’s arrogance was finally able to catch up with him and he is rapidly losing the support and goodwill he still had with me. Between the anti-vaccination stand, the desire for Grand Slam events to be fully open to fans, and the now obviously ill-conceived Adria Tour, where pandemic protocols and multiple major players (now including Djokovic and his wife) I have tested positive for the virus; I find it very difficult to root it in any capacity. For a man who seems to need or want everyone to want him, he certainly seems to be getting that approval in a very strange way. I would be very curious of your opinion on all this.
I’m glad this reader has used the word “hubris”. Yes, there is something fiercely contemporary in this story. (I imagine someone reads this headline on January 1 “Djokovic tests positive for COVID-19 when Adria Tour cancels” and then wonders what kind of mushrooms have been served). But there is also something fiercely classic in this tale. The entire plot, in fact, is taken from the canon of Greek mythology.
Once upon a time, a mortal experienced great success in his field. He began to believe that his greatness was spreading and, in fact, he was immune to the laws of the universe. The unwavering self-confidence that made him so successful in his field? It transformed into something that suddenly applied to all efforts. He nosed at the convention and mortals who took foolish precautions and limited their beliefs to the parameters of science and the physical world.
When a global pandemic struck, his narcissism accelerated. Not unlike flying too close to the sun or looking at its reflection, he expressed skepticism about vaccines. He trumpeted his belief that positive energy can alter water. He ignored the policies of a land in distancing. Some deadly He tried to warn her that this was reckless and irresponsible. But there was no cap. He had surrounded himself with supporters. His parents I thought it wasn’t deadly. He had no membrane that could make him see the error of his ways. Instead, there was a loyalist echo chamber, which confirmed everything. What they lacked in number they made up for in intensity, dismissing anyone remotely critical as “sheep” or “liberal media” or zealous fans of their rivals.
Emboldened by his loyal supporters, and now deeply convinced of his invincibility, he held a celebration across his land, a grand multi-day travel party. He invited his friends and colleagues. The pandemic sweeping the world? Pah! This was an occasion to show his immunity, literally his immortality. Others may be locked up. Or put on a mask before they pumped gasoline. Or worried about transmitting this virus to someone from a previous generation. He danced, practiced sports, hugged and celebrated as if it were 2019.
But, as they usually do, the gods were angry. No one knows the ringleader, that God took the lead. Was it science or biology or virology or mathematics or just objective truth? Who knows? But they were disgusted with this display of pride, self-importance, and condescension. And behold hit him with great vengeance and furious anger. First his friends tested positive for the virus he had made fun of. Then a day later, it also tested positive.
With that came concern. A unlikely narrator of the truth Correctly stated that this virus is NOT A Joke. All citizens hoped that everyone would recover quickly. But this positive test also brought a lot of ridicule, disappointment, and condemnation from around the world. (Especially from the fields of their rivals).
This is what gives this story an edge of sadness. Despite his arrogance, our central character was not an evil man. No way. In fact, he cared deeply about public approval, especially since his two rivals just seemed to get it with so little effort. He was able to amaze kindness and good deeds. Just a few weeks earlier, he led the organization of a relief fund for his colleagues during the plague. His celebration of tennis, as irresponsible as it was, was not organized in malice, but quite the contrary.
But he was reckless, self-glorifying, and selfish as he didn’t think about how a highly contagious virus could act. It was also strange that this person who believed in cosmic forces like peace and love and the good energy that overcomes hydrogen and oxygen atoms, did not also believe in karma. A b ****, this karma is.
This story may have the classic sound of a Greek myth. But there is a critical difference: chapters remain to be written. Hopefully our protagonist will make amends and change the arrogance that got him into this mess. Hopefully he apologizes significantly, not a press release crafted by Hephaestus. Hopefully he will resign from the tribal council, at least temporarily, while his “leadership” strongly disagrees with the best interests of his colleagues.
In the year of the plague, our protagonist was undefeated in his chosen chase. But when the sport resumed, he had a lot to recover.