There’s a story, I think from around the time of the Irish Rebellion, where one of the rebels upon being mercilessly bashed by an English soldier asks his assailant “Why do you hate us so much?” to which the soldier replies “because look at what you make us do to you.”
I imagine today Novak Djokovic asking the country of Australia “why do you hate me so much” and Australia responding “because look at what you made us do to you.”
It is arguably one of the defining features of humans that we have the choice at any time not to fall into the roles assigned to us but to exercise our free will. The English soldier didn’t have to bash the Irishman, it’s just what was required of him by the situation. Although we have free will, the exercising of free will is often the more difficult option because it requires us to re-evaluate and ask the question “who am I?” That was the option presented to the Australian government and by extension the Australian people this week. We chose to do what the English solider did. Rather than exercise our free will and ask the question “who are we and what are we doing”, we went with what was required of us by the archetype that is dominant at the moment, The Devouring Mother.
What is so fascinating about the case is that the Australian Government and Djokovic both found themselves in the pattern dictated by the archetype even though neither wanted it to happen and even though neither gained anything from it. That’s how life goes. The Irish revolutionary did not want to get caught and bashed by the English soldier and the English soldier did not want to bash another Irishman. But they fell into these roles anyway and so did we and Djokovic.
I’m not sure why Djokovic decided to take his deportation to court. He never had a chance at winning for the reason that the law is specifically written to allow the Immigration Minister to deport whoever he wants. Djokovic’s lawyers must have told him he had almost no chance but he decided to go ahead anyway.
For those who don’t know, the Australian government’s official reason for deporting Djokovic was that he “might” cause “anti-vax sentiment”, whatever the hell that is. Djokovic’s lawyer did a great job of outlining the ridiculousness of this claim but, as the government’s lawyer pointed out, the Immigration Minister is not required to provide a satisfactory reason and the court is not free to find his reasons lacking, hence the fact that Djokovic never had a chance.
Let’s step back and look at what has just happened during the last week and a bit.
The Australian government granted Djokovic a visa and a medical exemption. Djokovic, who could have had no clue what was about to happen, showed up to play tennis. That’s his job, after all. He gets detained at the airport on grounds that are later found to be spurious during a four day court case in which he is detained in a dingy hotel. He is released by the court and starts training for the Australian Open until the Immigration Minister cancels his visa on grounds of spreading “anti-vax sentiment”.
Did Djokovic come here with the intention of spreading “anti-vax sentiment”? No. Would he have said a single word about covid or vaccines while he was here (unless invited to do so). Of course not. Why would he? As Djokovic’s lawyer did a great job at pointing out during the court case today, there is no evidence that Djokovic has willingly and publicly aligned himself with the “anti-vax” movement, whatever that is. Rather, he became associated with that movement only after the Australian government first detained him. In other words, the Australian government caused the very thing that it would later accuse Djokovic of. If it had never given him a visa in the first place or if it had never detained him at the airport, none of this would have happened. He would have played tennis, probably won, and then gone home and everybody would have been happy. If the Australian government was really concerned with subduing “anti-vax” sentiment, it couldn’t have done a worse job. Note that this is an example of projecting the shadow. The Australian government, having created “anti-vax sentiment” by screwing up Djokovic’s immigration process, then accused him of creating “anti-vax sentiment”. The whole thing sounds absurd but only if you apply a causal lens. The reality is such things are acausal. Just like the English soldier and Irish revolutionary, it happened because predefined roles exist and the government and Djokovic “accidentally” fell into those roles.
Let’s take an everyday example of what I mean. For bullying to occur, there must be a bully and a victim. We typically think of the bully as the “active” participant while the victim is “passive”. But the victim must “choose” to participate in the bullying. If they don’t, there is no bullying. That’s why parents will tell their children to stand up to a bully. In the absence of intimidation, bullying becomes something different. Mostly it becomes nothing because the bully backs down. The would-be victim has denied the frame they were invited to participate in.
It’s not always the bully who initiates the frame. A depressed teenager walking round with shoulders slumped and a miserable expression becomes a magnet for a bully. They are creating the frame for bullying whether they like it or not. Note that this is something that Jordan Peterson has touched on. One of the reasons why you should stand with your shoulders back is so you don’t attract bullies.
Archetypes and social scripts are like the grammar of a language. If you have a transitive verb you must also have a subject and object. If you don’t, your sentence is not grammatical. Grammar is formal. It creates a frame. A similar thing happens all the time in interpersonal relationships. One person, often subconsciously, creates a frame which has roles for others to fill. If I offer you a job, I create a frame where you become an employee. But it can work the other way around too. In one of my favourite Seinfeld episodes, Kramer shows up at an office and starts acting like he works there. He immediately gets invited to meetings and given work to do. It’s funny cos the usual order of cause and effect is inverted but we also know it would work in real life. In a similar way, smiling can make you feel good even though usually a smile follows the emotion. Frames are a bit like electrical circuits. You need all elements to complete the circuit. Furthermore, any starting point you identify in a circuit you can call the “cause” and everything after the “effect” but this is not really valid. Any starting point will do.
If all this can happen at the individual level, it can also happen at the societal. The Australian Government and Novak Djokovic just got caught in the archetypal circuit that is The Devouring Mother. In its behaviour towards Djokovic, the government was arbitrary, vindictive and callous, just like a devouring mother. The key point, however, is that it had absolutely no interest in behaving that way. Everything the government did in the last week was against the national interest. Why did it do it? Why did the solider bash the Irish revolutionary even though he didn’t want to? Because the pattern demanded it. The archetype demanded it in this case because Djokovic had unintentionally fallen into the role of the rebellious child. As Djokovic’s lawyer pointed out in court today, there is no evidence that Djokovic wanted that role. He came to Australia for the obvious reason of winning a tennis tournament for which he was the hot favourite. He would have won millions of dollars in prize money. Instead, he goes home having wasted probably hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees and spent almost a week living in a dingy room in a hotel. Nothing that happened here has furthered his interests.
What this shows is that we can all fall into archetypal situations whether we like it or not. The Irish revolutionary did not want to get bashed. The English soldier did not want to do the bashing. But that’s what happened. The Australian Government did not want to spoil this country’s reputation and ruin one of our main sporting events. Djokovic did not want to lose a heap of money and become an object of hatred. But that’s what happened. The whole Djokovic saga is a straight loss for all concerned. That’s what happens when a Shadow archetype is running the show.
As one final side note, I found the case today interesting for the importance of the meaning of words and how propaganda has real world implications. The phrase “anti-vaxxer” has become nothing more than a slur word. Like “fascist” it has some vague historical connotation, some potential link to reality, but its meaning has been twisted. The meaning of the anti-vax slur has been expanded now to include people who are also against government measures to enforce vaccinations. That is a completely different issue from the one of whether vaccines work. It is perfectly possible to be pro vaccine and anti-vaccine mandate. Nevertheless, in the last week we have had the Australian Government and the Federal Court of Australia use the word “anti-vaxxer” in this new fashion. Like archetypes and social roles, words are patterns and once a pattern becomes established it gets used even in important court cases. Thus we had the spectacle of Djokovic being imputed as an “anti-vaxxer” even though there is no evidence the he has ever spoken on the subject beyond his own personal decision not to take the corona vaccine. Can you imagine finding yourself in court where the entire discussion is about something you’ve never advocated for or said? That’s what Djokovic would have gone through today. It must have been surreal to say the least. All he did was come to Australia and try to play tennis.