Last year, when my doctor told me to lose weight, he suggested that I get back into tennis. “Because I used to be great at tennis and the social distancing?” I asked.
“No,” he said. “Because you’re well versed in making a racket and questioning decisions.”
Pfftt. He’s the one who’d be good at tennis, with his calling out people’s faults and his lightning quick backhanders!
So last week, he asks me “how’s the tennis going?”
“Doctor,” I tell him, “it all came back to me as if I’d never stopped playing.
“When I got on the tennis court and I saw the ball flying towards me, my brain immediately told me ‘send a forehand groundstroke to their unguarded left corner! Now, run up to your service line and backhand this one into their deuce court! Now run to the net!
“‘Now quickly back to your baseline and volley this one over their head and into their no man’s land!'”
“That’s fantastic, Father!” he said.
“Not really,” I replied. “My body then asks ‘Who? Me? You must be joking!”
OK, I haven’t got back onto a tennis court yet. However, I did go to McDonald’s the other day and ask for a soft serve.
Heated discussions leading up to this year’s upcoming Australian Open are a reminder that even successful and sincere people can judge the same situations very differently.
When I was 19, a university assessment forced me to consider the concept of pluralism: the idea that a society can not only survive but thrive with a multiplicity of different views and beliefs.
In my essay, I made the easy argument that Australia has consistently chosen to be a pluralistic society, and that we as a nation have benefited abundantly from this choice.
That was an easy sell back when I was 19. It’s seems somewhat harder these days now that I’m … over 21.
Margaret Court becomes a Companion in the General Division of the Order of Australia, and Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews and Western Australian Premier Mark McGowan publicly denounce it because of her views on same-sex marriage?
Then, veteran journalist Kerry O’Brien rejects his Australia Day award because Court is getting one too?
As John McEnroe would say “you cannot be serious!”
Court wasn’t bestowed with this honour for her views on same-sex marriage, but for her contributions to sport.
In one of the most sports-crazy countries in the world, she is likely the greatest athletes this country has ever produced; perhaps even greater than Sir Donald Bradman.
With all respect to the Don, in his day England was our only real rival in cricket.
But when Court stepped onto the tennis arena, she took on the best in the world. To this day, she is the most successful tennis player of all time.
Do these men believe she should be robbed of any future recognition for anything because of some of her beliefs?
This is hardly equality or even tolerance in a pluralistic country. What do they want?
Perhaps they are forgetting that it was their friend, Australian pluralism, that allowed a minority a voice to express their desire for same-sex marriage which in time converted the majority and thus became law. Is their friend now their enemy?
With only a few exceptions, the world is largely made up of friends and potential friends. Some agree with us, and then others do not.
The worst thing about everyone splitting up because of opinions – in my opinion – is that opinions, unlike your DNA and fingerprints, do change.
As a boy, when I heard a radio poll about the then-recent increase in cohabitation, the vast majority of people said that marriage was “just a piece of paper” and soon to be a thing of the past.
Yet all these years later, what’s the general opinion? That it’s a human right.
One of my favourite newspaper columnists until his untimely death was renowned atheist Christopher Hitchens. When I read his columns, they made me so angry – and I loved it!
My favourite singer, the late George Michael, once said “I can’t bear Catholicism!”, and yet I still miss him and regularly listen to his music.
It’s not always pleasant when we can’t agree. But to force it may well bring something worse.