Letter: William Tell

Dear Editor(s),

I don’t mean to be subversive … but all this Finicum material makes me think of William Tell.

William Tell, if I recall the story correctly, never set out to oppose authority so much as he set out to mind his own business and avoid tyranny. He was placed in a difficult situation by events that were outside of his control. But he rose to the occasion.

The events described led to the Swiss confederacy, perhaps one of the earliest efforts at democracy in Europe and surely an influence upon intellectuals in the centuries after. My own reading of events left me with the impression that Switzerland, and the rest of Northern Europe, required a sort of rugged individuality that, perhaps nowadays, is more familiar to Americans of a certain Western persuasion than to the Swiss.

And so I propose that 18 November be remembered. It’s the date when William Tell shot an apple off his son’s head and began a revolution of equality, a state of being where the sovereign resides within the individual – a revolution that continues, even today.

I hesitate to draw any more parallels for fear of a knock on the door, but the events in Oregon seem to herald a new awakening amongst the peasantry, happening, as it did, right in the heart of the virtually free state of Jefferson; it is not unlike a slap in the face.

It seems likely that 26 January will also become a date to be remembered and reflected upon.