Since history is the best teacher on how human nature can build and destroy, flourish or fall, here’s a little lesson that might gear our brains:

The Melian Dialogue – 2400 years ago in ancient Greece.

The story begins with the city-state, Athens during the 5th century BCE. The place was truly remarkable,  with a flourishing democracy, plus the famous Platos and Sacrottees living and philosophising there. 

Athens was 15 years into the Peloponnesian War,  which was fought against their great enemy, the Spartans. The island of Milos was neutral in the war. They were closely related to the Spartans, but they didn’t fight with them. In 416 BCE the Athenians sent 38 ships with 3000 soldiers, to capture the island of Milos or else force them to pay tribute. 

According to Thucydides (Athenian historian), when the Melians opposed to that threat (because obviously, it’s not right to attack people that just want to remain neutral, duh) the Athenians replied:

“The strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must”.

After a seize on their city, the Melians eventually surrendered, and the Athenians murder and sold them into slavery. 

The line: “The strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must” has been echoing throughout history since then.

Some believe it is a guiding principle in how humans have constantly lived. With the powerful doing everything they can to increase their influence, and the powerless suffering the consequences. 

But does today’s modern and technology-driven society agree?

Obviously, by now humanity has learned that life isn’t a zero-sum game. We are interconnected and interdependent species, and share successes and losses, one way or another. Here are two ways in which that mantra is being applied nowadays:

The conundrum of powerful corporations and businesses.

The term “corporate social responsibility” gets thrown around a lot. Businesses and tech giants understand the accountability that comes with having a big presence in the market. Whether it’s environmental, social, economic etc., they are demanded to help. 

Why? Because by investing in people, startups, and ideas, they’re not just simply opening doors to new opportunities within their own companies. All those possibilities offer innovation for both the strong and the weak (hah).

So we understand that “more for me does not mean less for you”. The Human race is evolving!

However, unfortunately, it is used a lot as a marketing tool as well. Clearly, potential clients value good morals and ethics, so businesses hop on the train of being “socially responsible”, without actually doing anything about it.

A lesson for students diving in today’s job market.

We understand the scare. It is difficult to not get overwhelmed when you see others already succeeding or having a head start in their career. Social media with its glorified tales doesn’t quite help as well. 

Even though a bit of healthy competition is good and pushes us towards a better version, we need to stay mindful. Remember,  “more for me does not mean less for you”.

The Athenians understood that as well when they lost the Peloponnesian War. Focus on bettering yourself as a human being, to further better the interconnected society and digital age we are living in!