To continue Tuesday’s theme of National Native American Heritage Month, we chose this quote from a Native American author.
Be thankful you weren’t cursed with perfection. If you were perfect, there’d be nothing for you to achieve with your life. Imperfection is the source of every action. This is both our curse and our blessing as human beings. Our very imperfection makes a holy life possible. We’re not supposed to be perfect. We’re supposed to be useful.
This quote is from a member of the Turtle Mountain Chippewa tribe, with Lakota and Dakota heritage. The author was accused of murder and wrongfully imprisoned for protecting women and children from US Lawmen on reservation land. This story has been repeated over and over in United States history. It might be surprising to learn that this man, who speaks of self-acceptance and usefulness is not a victim of Wild West injustice. He and his plight are entirely modern. Born on September 12th, 1944, he is alive today. His name is Leonard Peltier. Despite the modern discussions about acceptance and inclusivity in the presence of differences, we are still plagued by race-based injustice.
November 15th is The Day of the Imprisoned Writer, an annual and international celebration of literary talent. Despite our talk of modern acceptance, Peltier’s story proves how unjust the penal system remains. As of 2018 the US has 655 prisoners per 100,000 US citizens, more than any other nation in the world.1 Additionally, people of color are a disproportionate 64% of the US prison population despite comprising only 29.9% of the overall US population.2 Now that more people are aware of the systemic problems within our country we can work to fix these injustices.We may not be perfect, but at least we can be useful.
It is nice to live a useful life without the responsibility of perfection. Let go of perfectionism. Give it a try. See what you think.
- “Countries with the largest number of prisoners…” Statista. July 2018. https://www.statista.com/statistics/262962/countries-with-the-most-prisoners-per-100-000-inhabitants
- “Racial and Ethnic Disparities.”Prison Policy Initiative. 2010. https://www.prisonpolicy.org/profiles/US.html