Defining Tragedy

Tragedy is a concept as old as human memory; the Greeks had a word for it before humanity could even begin to know what the social and mental repercussions of such events could be, let alone the damage done to one’s emotions. Tragedy is defined as an event which is calamitous or even fatal in some extreme cases, and no matter the advice, the promises of better things to come, or the platitudes, a tragedy is not a small matter to the affected individual. It can’t just be overcome with a smile, a hug, a warm cup of tea, or a story about someone else overcoming his own personal trials and tribulations. It cannot be covered up by flying banners that say: “I’m fine,” and then forgotten about. The victim of the tragedy will always be affected, in varying degrees. Maybe, eventually, the pain will lessen, the nightmares will cease, and the memories will fade to something vaguely unpleasant. But such a process can take years to come full cycle.

Now we have our Definition, what do we do with it?


As dire as the effects of tragedy seem from the definitions and the sources of treatment from the therapists, it is as common as the first sniffles of a small cold and shared about as virally. The trouble with human culture is that it isn’t considered to be “done” to air one’s emotions as vividly as they appear in the minds of the tragedy-afflicted. We don’t talk about our tragedies. We don’t because no one wants to hear a sad tale. But in repressing our feelings, our fears, and the events that shaped us, we allow them to control us. We walk through life like ghosts in the fog and we never connect with each other in the one way that we can, without judgment, through comfort and compassion. Life shouldn’t be the proverbial lonely walk through the Nevada desert, chewing on cacti. If we can share the experience, we can somehow learn to overcome it, can’t we? But we ignore the glaring signs that remind us that we aren’t alone, and we trudge on aimlessly.

Where do the answers lie?

One every street corner, there are thousands of flyers and pamphlets that promise the treatment of trauma, by doctors and specialists, therapists and healers of the modern world that promise to help us find the answer. But the answer is inside us. We can learn not only how to come to terms with our tragedy, but how to own and control it. Without that knowledge, that inherent ability to calculate, evaluate, and analyse our own minds and reactions, we let it control us. Medication is seldom the solution, though a great deal of afflicted members of society choose to be medicated over having to deal with their own tragedy, their own pain. Sadly, that term “medication” is often taken very loosely, and we find people hiding their pain behind slot machines in Las Vegas, Nevada, or drinking themselves to death in bars. In the worst cases, the solutions that people find are so much worse than just treatable addictions. In so many cases, one tragedy leaves a stain so vibrant on the afflicted individual’s soul, that it can never be erased, and the tragedy builds. It doesn’t have to be this way. Tragedy doesn’t have to rule us. We can fight it, overcome it, conquer it and its vicissitudes.