The Shawnee chief Tecumseh (1768-1813) had a vision of forming an alliance among the indigenous nations of this land in order to stop white colonialism. Although he was not successful, he is still honored as a great leader. The following quote, about how human beings should live their lives and prepare for their deaths, is as relevant today as it was more than two hundred years ago.
“So live your life that the fear of death can never enter your heart. Trouble no one about their religion; respect others in their view, and demand that they respect yours. Love your life, perfect your life, beautify all things in your life. Seek to make your life long and its purpose in the service of your people. Prepare a noble death song for the day when you go over the great divide. Always give a word or a sign of salute when meeting or passing a friend, even a stranger, when in a lonely place. Show respect to all people and grovel to none. When you arise in the morning give thanks for the food and for the joy of living. If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies only in yourself. Abuse no one and no thing, for abuse turns the wise ones to fools and robs the spirit of its vision. When it comes your time to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled with the fear of death, so that when their time comes they weep and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way. Sing your death song and die like a hero going home.”
Tecumseh’s words reflect the philosophy of Radical Joy for Hard Times. When we practice finding and making beauty for the wounded places of the Earth, we discover that our whole attitude and outlook on life undergo a change. We realize that we can also find and make beauty for other people, both loved ones and strangers, in simple yet meaningful ways. We perceive the wondrousness of life and are amazed at the way all beings strive and prevail. We become more connected to nature in all its phases. We “beautify all things in our life.”