During the course of the interaction presented to our class as the Athens/Melos Conflict Resolution, my classmates from the illustrious Block 2 and I were assigned roles in a fictional simulation of historic accounts of the dialogue between Athens and Melos. 2 Athenian Generals, 2 Athenian Admirals, 3 Melosian Rulers and 2 Melosian Generals were all tasked with achieving their goals. Given only backround of our current situation and the “prime directive” of our assigned characters, we were left to our own devices to accomplish what we could.
"We were left to our own devices to accomplish what we could."
I was assigned to the role of the Melosian General, and given one main goal in my information packet: keep Melos from going to war. The information given to us all gave us different directives, for us each to use the best we could. After educating ourselves about our truly dire situation, my teammates and I on the Melosian side of the table proceeded to do the best we could to ward off the superior Athens army. We very quickly learned peace didn't just happen.
The stages of Conflict Management as outlined by the Workable Peace Framework (Photo from Lindsey Schweitzer's Spark Page)
It was almost impossible to arrive at an agreement the moment we started, and that was made no easier throughout the course of our negotiations. Athenian and Melosian views were polar opposites, with neither side willing to give up any ground. We wanted peace, our traditional Oligarchy, and neutrality, and they wanted Democracy, another member of the delian League, resources, and were willing to go to war for it. Threats were quick to fly, and the death of the Melosian people was never out of Athen's mind as we continued forward in our negotiations.
After days of back and forth on the Melosian right to govern themselves, the amount of gold, soldiers and ships to be paid, an agreement was struck, leaving us slightly more impoverished, but still able to continue on with our way of life.
Threats were quick to fly, and the death of the Melosian people was never out of Athen's mind as we continued forward in our negotiations.
Through the duration of the negotiations I took part in, I took away one "big idea:" Life doesn't follow your plan; everything and everyone has to come together the right way for things to go even a millimeter forward. That might be why this exercise is, in my opinion, such a valuable one to take part in during the formative years of High School. Learning how to cooperate with someone you fundamentally disagree with is more and more important in the political climate we live in. The work we've done in the simulation really changed the way my classmates and I viewed our ability to communicate with an opposing viewpoint. In all, completing this activity allowed us all to see "across the aisle" (literally in our sense) and work to find a meaningful compromise.