Mom’s Plea Softens Heart of Photo Owner, Forgives Solis

This photo by Gregory J. Smith was claimed by Mark Solis as his own. It won in a competition sponsored by the Chilean Embassy in the Philippines.

Mark Joseph Solis’ mother’s “simple and short” apologies moved the Norwegian Gregory John Smith prompting him to forgive the photo thief.

It can be recalled that Smith posted his photograph of an impoverished yet smiling Brazilian boy on his Flickr account, but the 22-year-old Solis claimed it as his, and submitted it as an entry to “Smiles for the World” competition funded by the Chile Embassy in Manila, further claiming that the image was taken in Zamboanga City.

In his Facebook post on Saturday September 28, Smith said seeing Solis’ mother, Amelia on a television interview apologizing to him in tears made him decide to forgive the student.

Gregory J. Smith
Gregory J. Smith

“When tragedy first knocks on our doors, it is often the mothers who suffer the most; it is often the mothers who far too often have to carry the burdens of their sons’ and daughters’ wrongdoings,” he wrote.

“I attend [to] numerous [other] mothers in my daily work with their children, and I feel deeply for them. I feel their suffering for sons and daughters who have often committed much worse crimes than Solis committed, or will probably ever commit, and I feel their often selfless love for their offspring,” Smith relates.

He felt that same love, according to him, while watching the television broadcast.

In a letter posted on his Facebook account, Smith said, “Whilst Solis’ words and articulations made no impact on me whatsoever, his mother’s simple and short apology to me reminded me of who I am and what I represent in an ever tormented world and I would have honestly wished to be beside her in that exact moment to share and comfort her in this sad moment of deception.”

According to him, it takes courage for a mother to speak out the way she did and he has an immense respect for such people, no matter who she is trying to defend, because he has met them all here in Brazil before; mothers of killers, rapists, kidnappers, and thieves.

Adding more to his comments, Smith asked “As a mother she knows and understands only too well her son’s wrongdoings, but as a mother she has the ability to forgive and to guide, but do we have that same ability?

However I, here and now, openly accept his mother Amelia’s sincerest apologies to me for her son’s wrongdoings. I also have the capacity to forgive Solis for what he did and hopefully he has learned  a lesson from his fellow Filipino citizens that such things are not tolerated in a dignified society where we all have a responsibility for each other, ” he added.

“We are not alone in this world; Solis is not alone in this world. There are hopefully those in our circle of family and friends that care and love us for whom or what we are, even when we sometimes lose direction,” he further reiterated.

Moreover, according to Smith, even if he is a compassionate individual he did not feel for how far Solis was willing to go in his absurd greediness for recognition, fame and fortune.

He further added that “Those consequences he (Solis) will now have to face due to the wrong choices he made and he will feel the after effects of them for many years to come. There are so many wrongdoings in our world today that we often become speechless or even paralyzed for each new tragedy that provokes our own set of values and way of thinking. We only need to look around us in the world today to see that it is often tragic circumstances that provoke us to reaffirm our moral and ethical values.”

He fortified that on that point, we can all agree that Mr. Solis has failed; just like many of us sometimes fail during the course of our lives. But hopefully we learn from our mistakes and, generally speaking, all of us need a slap on the face, once in a while, to adjust our own egocentricity which, if not steered properly, can have tragic consequences on our lives and on the lives of those who are near and dear to us.

“That young man needs to move on too, change his attitudes and redirect himself on the right pathway to success, which we all know, is only possible through honest and hard labor, something Mark Solis will obviously have to learn along the way, because there is no other way,” he added.   He does not want a tragedy worse than what already happened.

Finally, Smith urged the people to “move on now” since according to him “justice has already been done.”


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