NEWS OF THE WORLD
Character is like a tree and reputation like its shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing. - Abraham Lincoln
You sold that child into slavery; you have suffered every parent's worst nightmare; you left her alone; we have never done anything like that, ever; you are victims of the cruelest crime imaginable; you killed her accidentally; you murdered her; you had the audacity to try and get on with your lives; our hearts go out to you, we will stand by you, forever; we have taken down the posters; we are still looking; you played tennis; you wore make up; we saw her; it was not her; you courted us for the publicity which we could give; ungratefully you questioned our opinions; you used us; we abused you; you phoned the police straight away; you didn't; there is an innocent explanation; you are as guilty as sin; you washed that cat; we can see the pain on your face; we can see through that charade; you are in our every thoughts; you went to church to pray; you hid her body; your loss is our loss; you cold heartless bitch; (with tears in our eyes) you poor, poor, woman; we want to forget and get on with our lives; we will never forget, we will never stop looking; we are obsessed; we are bored; why are you and your one white child worth more than a continent of starving black children; we can so identify with something so close to home, and too close for comfort; we know you so well; we know all the details of what really happened; we don't know you at all; we have no idea what really happened; but you will be judged; we will judge you; we already are; the shadow of the tree that extends over so many countries, over so many lives; lives like yours, and lives not like yours; what really happened, and who are you?
Character develops itself in the stream of life. - Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe
(A version of this story previously appeared in Word Slaw.)