In the Middle Ages, when the Austrians, along with the Habsburg Emperors, dominated their neighboring Switzerland, even subjecting them to humiliation and discrimination, a local man, known for his physical strength, climbing ability and skill. shooting with a crossbow, wandered around the town of Altorf with his son.

He did not know that on that day, the Vogt (a feudal lord appointed by the autocratic Austrians) by the name of Albrecht Gessler had lacked the means to debase the Swiss, having already forbidden them to enjoy music, dance and of any form of celebration, decided to place his hat on top of a pole in the town square and made everyone who passed by to show submission or be arrested.

Ignoring the latest ignominy effort, the man was immediately arrested, but instead of being placed in stocks, Gessler continued his demeaning punishment requiring him to slit an apple placed on his son’s head with an arrow. fired from his crossbow.

So, we have the famous story of William Tell, and it occurred as of today, November 18, 1307. Most know of the success of Tell’s accomplishment as well as his response to Tell’s request. Vogt for why he chose two arrows from his quill when it only needed one: “I would have it to shoot you if the first arrow hit my son.”

There are a number of literary issues with this old story that many believe to be simply a myth.

First of all, it was only written two and a half centuries after it allegedly took place. In addition, there are similar stories rooted in traditional Nordic, Danish, Rhine and Saxon folklore.

In addition, many researchers believe that the account was intended to justify in the minds of the Swiss people, who were on the threshold of the rebellion against Austria, the concept of regicide (it is the ethical assassination of a tyrant for his cruelty.). In 1307 Switzerland was known as Widerstandsrecht.

It is not a simple decision. This is a major ethical dilemma!

On the one hand, we could easily look at a deranged madman like Adolf Hitler, and quickly understand that if he had been eliminated at an earlier stage in history, literally millions of people would have been saved from death and death. ignominious torture. But we must also consider that in the personal writings of John Wilkes Booth a note was discovered referring to the story of William Tell as the justification for his assassination of President Lincoln.

While few of us will ever be placed in such a confusing dilemma, the truth is, all who take life seriously live their entire lives in the midst of an ongoing internal dispute over ethics. Anyone who strives to follow the teachings and spirit of Jesus knows firsthand that there are few simple black and white decisions to be made. Once, when giving instructions to his disciples, Jesus added: “I send you out like sheep in the midst of wolves; be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.

It would be much easier if the scriptures were just a rule book, which was the hope of the Pharisees. But the Bible is a book of grace, not a law.

From the book of Genesis, when God placed Adam in the Garden of Eden, man was informed of his expected responsibilities. In the Exodus, as the Children of Egypt left their slavery in Egypt, they were instructed in their ethical duties to the Lord and to their neighbor.

And I believe it is safe to say that nowhere more than in the famous Sermon on the Mount of Christ is this hortation more emphasized. We can identify this very moment in history as when ethics took on a whole new dimension. Jesus’ call to show love and compassion to one another, even to those who despise and abuse us, continued as a theme of believers displayed in their letters to one another.

Indeed, it is a plea that resonates through the Bible, religious history and at every moment of our spiritual life.

Thadd White is editor-in-chief of Bertie Ledger-Advance, Chowan Herald, Perquimans Weekly, The Enterprise & Eastern North Carolina Living. He can be contacted by email at [email protected]

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