What is a Tragedy?

Just about everyone has experienced a hardship. If  a person grew up in this country before these modern times, they surely experienced several hardships. Some hardships are short and take effort to endure, but they end, and a person comes out of it all right. Then, others are more complex and take more emotional time before healing. Often, people call a hardship a tragedy. A person can relate something sad or an awful event, and get a response like: “That’s too bad. That’s a real tragedy.” Or someone may say, “Such a tragedy.” We’ve made these comments just because we thought that the situation was bad. After all, it had to do with someone falling ill, getting hurt. dying, loosing their home or spouse and loosing a job. But, what is a tragedy? Is it just anything “bad?”

The Greeks used drama, specifically, tragedy as a way of looking at the world they live in. The main character would commit a terrible crime in the area of love, loss, pride, abuse of power and relationships between men and gods.  Aristotle thought that a tragedy cleansed the heart. He thought that the heart would be cleansed through pity and terror, and that one would purge the petty concerns and worries through an awareness of suffering.

When I was a high school teacher, many of my students were from other countries. Their parents, through their own struggles, managed to get these students  here to the U.S. in order for them to have opportunities that they wouldn’t get in their own country. After they were here a while and “settled in,” my students needed their parents. The parents didn’t learn English or the culture. Many of my students felt like they were just dropped here without a lifeguard, or parents. The students learned English and the culture, slowly. It’s hard to have to go to school in one world and go home to another in the same country. That frustrated and angered many of my students. They wanted to talk to their parents about what they were going through at school, how they were questioned about their country, the differences in the way things are done in this country, the different kinds of food. But the parents were struggling with their job search, the low pay, the need to work many hours to pay the rent, put food on the table, clothe their children, and please don’t let anyone come down with an illness or get injured on the job. Some of my students had parents who just left; they couldn’t deal with the “too much.” Some parents became seriously ill and had to depend on the children to go to the doctor, and give them medication. So, now how is this an opportunity? some students asked.

As a teacher, I struggled to get my students to see that coming to this country  was an opportunity for them and they should try to take advantage of it. On the other hand, they told me that it was extremely difficult. Given their background, they couldn’t compete. They declared themselves void of skill or knowledge and didn’t see a way to improve their standing. Many of their comments broke my heart. Many of them were skilled and would make excellent citizens in this country. But, given their circumstances, or their “tragedies,” more students gave up then  those who went on.

My newest novel, Blessings and Curses, is about how a person can come from a horrific background , “a real tragedy,” but find the need  and a way to forge ahead anyway and become the person he or she is meant to be.

Olivia Douglas is undecided about becoming a priest even after she has completed seminary. She is adopted and for most of her life, she has had a curse over her that she has held secret. In order to help her find out whether or not she is led to the priesthood, her parish priest gives her an assignment – to pray with in inmate on death row. The relationship with the inmate makes her curious about her own life before she was adopted. Before he is executed, the inmate asks for Olivia’s help and in honoring his personal request, she discovers something in her past that threatens to uproot her ordinary life with her adopted family and causes her to desperately struggle to hold on to her persona and position.

Order Blessings and Curses from www.blackrosewriting.com today and receive a discount for  your advance copy. Then tell me about your tragedy or hardship.


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