He is not a charismatic politician. Nor a media personality or an actor. He is a professor of medicine. And yet, at the moment, he is one of the most well-known people in Greece. And one of the most believable.
Of course, I am referring to Dr. Sotiris Tsiodras, the scientist chosen by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis to officially, and credibly, inform the Greek people about the developments of the day regarding the coronavirus.
He is the man who glues everyone in Greece to his/her seat in front of the television every night at 6:00 PM (Greek time).
He is a scientist who, like Dr. Anthony Fauci in the United States and various scientists in Europe, has become a television star according to The New York Times.
Dr. Tsiodras is a full-time Professor of Medicine and Infectious Diseases at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens Medical School but what do we know about him beyond that?
A lot is being written about him, but what is omitted, however, is that he is a Greek-American.
During his youth, he studied in America and it seems as though he was deeply influenced by his experiences here.
Dr. Tsiodras often goes to church – and he chants – as did the late Ambassador Michael Sotirhos. Maybe that too is due to his stay here.
Certainly the humility of Dr. Tsiodras, his simplicity, his dry presentation of scientific data and other information without fanfare to the Greek people, shows an American influence.
He is like the character in “The Millionaire Next Door” – the title of the well-known book – whom you have no idea is a millionaire.
He is the famous scientist who behaves like a parent, any concerned parent, among many watching his child at a soccer game.
He is the hero, doctor, nurse, soldier, etc., who does his duty and does not claim a pension from the state, but disappears from the forefront when his task is completed and returns to what he did before.
He is the one who introduces himself to you as ‘Sotiris’ when he first meets you, and not with a list of the titles he has accumulated over his life and career.
As The New York Times noted: “Professor Tsiodras combines key features that make him appealing to the anxious public, says Theo Anagnostopoulos, the founder of SciCo, a science communications consultancy: He comes across as an ordinary person but with proven expertise, and is empathetic. ‘He’s one of us,’ Mr. Anagnostopoulos said. ‘He’s humble, modest and caring, but he’s also undeniably a top expert.’”
In other words, he has all the elements of a great scientist but who, precisely because he is great, does not need to spotlight his greatness. He is just himself.
More bluntly, he behaves like a serious American.
However, it will be interesting to see how long he will continue to be treated with respect and appreciation and how long his popularity will last.
Usually, the political-journalistic class of Athens, as well as the academic community, but also a part of the business world, do not take kindly to Greek-Americans. They are afraid of them.
An important exception is Andreas Papandreou, who, although lived in America for 20 years and even served in the U.S. Navy, was treated as an American-educated Greek, rather than as a member of the Diaspora. Then again, Andreas never chanted in any of the churches of our Archdiocese.
I hope they continue to treat Dr. Tsiodras in the same way and with the same respect as he has been treated.
Otherwise they will start slinging the mud. Some of the well-known, so-called ‘democratic’ media and various opposition politicians have already started.
Let’s hope that his fellow scientists, along with other journalists and politicians, will rush to his side.
So that he can continue to offer his valuable services to the people at a very difficult historical moment.