Bioethics Blogs

The Lion in Charge: Finding Strength in Uncertain Times

Aesop is credited with the first writing the familiar phrase
“United We Stand, Divided We Fall.” In my brief search to find the origins of
this phrase also offered a brief writing of two of the fables, which I will
share here to frame my thoughts on managing the risks of ignoring cavalier,
authoritarian leaders who prey on those who fail to muster the necessary
strength and group support to oppose such behavior.

“The Four Oxen and the Lion:

A lion used to prowl about a field in which Four Oxen used
to dwell. Many a time he tried to attack them; but whenever he came near they
turned their tails to warn anther, so that whichever way he approached them he
was met by the horns of one of them. At last, however, they fell [to] quarrelling
among themselves, and each went off to pasture alone in the separate corner of
the field. Then the Lion attacked them one by one and soon made an end of all
four.” (

Let’s not be quick to dismiss this as a mere child’s story. But
let’s start there. Where did most of us first learn about bullies? Probably in
grade school – either as a victim, a bystander, or as a perpetrator. Tactics
for dealing with the abuse may have ranged from passivity to seeking help from
persons with greater authority to intervene, though this may have had mixed
results. What happens when those with authority dismiss the claim, or otherwise
fail to help? The abuse gets worse.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.