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Reputation vs. Character

Reputation vs Character

This photo was taken of a Syrian man named Ahmed after he was finished crying. His shirt is emblazoned in a mixture of literal sweat and tears.

Before I began speaking in broken Arabic to this man I was terrified. He was large and brusque and wore a look of terror on his face.

He was stationed in Skaramagas Refugee Camp after fleeing Syria amidst war.

Although I met him in the middle of July last summer there was 3 things I knew to be certain.

1) He was alone. He took his phone out to show us photos of his girlfriend and brother--his last living relatives who were bombed before he was forced to flee.

2) He didn't have any family left except one uncle he thought may still be alive in Germany. All he had hope for was the potential of starting a new life in Greece.

3) There came a point where this man could no longer hold back his emotion and was sobbing which led many of our group members to walk away from the scene, but I knew there was something I could do for him.

My grandfather had just passed away and he was such a force and beacon of inspiration in my life growing up and that light he taught me would always shine within.

I brought finger lights that flicked on and off with the intention of giving them to refugee children to make them happy and relay that same notion. To always flow "onward and into the light."

Until the opportunity came to give a finger light to Ahmed in the middle of his sobs to tell him that his light was within.

His guidance, the spirit of his loved ones were all lights he could choose to shine should he just know he has the power to turn a switch.

In the middle of his sobs he began to laugh as he outstretched his arms to hug me with such gratitude whimpering, "Christina, thank you, Christina. Thank you."

The man with nothing.

The man who had no one, then invited us in his box for tea and refreshments.

His character outlasted 9/10 people I meet daily, yet his fate is still unknown.

This photo was taken in the Hellenic Parliament building while interviewing Greece's far-right Golden Dawn spokesperson Ilias Kasidiaris.

Though this interview took place in July, 3 things I could recall were clear as day.

2) I was sitting closest to Kasidiaris on a desk due to the lack of seating in an office not made for a group of 14 students to sit in. He felt the need to evoke a question out of me. He asked me what I wanted to ask him. The way I was always taught journalism was that I was the one who started the questioning process. It was provoked. Then again, I was before a man who we were warned not to be too aggressive with, but all I was doing was sitting down. Upon further research I came to find out Kasidiaris was known as "the Playboy of Greece's far-right." *eyeroooolllllllllll*

3) Kasidiaris, a man potentially responsible for the future of Greek society and a clear egoist was also tried for the murder, extortion and disappearance in the involvement of up to 100 migrants according to He was also charged with attempts for criminal organization based on weapon possessions.

He was a man I was instructed I needed to respect with a sense of timidity due to his reputation. Yet, in front of him all I felt was disgust and a lack of intellect shadowed by his abusive pride and cockiness.

Now to digress. Reputation is what men and women think of us, character is what we’re judged on in our last days. While it can be important to consider other people’s reactions toward how you present yourself, they often aren’t an accurate representation of your core being.

Kasidiaris uses his reputation and bravado to make others feel small in his presence and they are in fact instructed to do so, while Ahmed used his character and humility to expose the rawness behind his emotional vulnerability.

In one situation I was able to see a man who didn't have clear answers for me. Only things he knew to rehearse.

In another situation a man was able to see me and the kindness and generosity we could provide each other.

When we allow another person to choose how we should be seen it stifles any potential to flourish our character. The simplest things can show the meaning of life. Laughing with a toddler. Giving a homeless person a hot meal. Being someone’s shoulder to cry on. Happiness. Compassion. Empathy.

Most importantly Love behind all of those actions.

While we’re all busy working hard for a good life, we fail to realize the good life is enjoying the little things. Gratification occurs immediately when we give our audience a moment of equalization—the ability to relate in the simplest ways. We can provide or do for others what the rest of the world ignores in an attempt to dehumanize the vulnerable for personal fulfillment or gain. After all, what we do in life echoes in eternity. All my love and luck to you, Salem🌞

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