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
2 thoughts on “Thursday Motivation – Quit Perfectionism”
“Additionally, people of color are a disproportionate 64% of the US prison population despite comprising only 29.9% of the overall US population.”
This is where we imperfect beings need to be careful and not jump to conclusions. This statistic might be telling us that people of color commit crimes at a greater rate than people without color (i.e. whites). Asians have a low incarceration rate largely because they commit few violent crimes.
Another factor that is rarely mentioned with regards to blacks in the US is the lack of family formation in the black community, which leads to and aggravates so many problems that blacks are plagued by (such as poverty).
Sociological problems are multifaceted and reducing these solely to issues of race or ethnicity causes us to view these problems with tunnel vision.
Larry, thanks for your contribution. The socioeconomic factors are a huge part of the reason minority prison populations are proportionally higher. It is important, especially in these politically divided times, to keep our eyes open and avoid absolutes that lead to tunnel vision. With intelligent conversation and social/political/government action, we can start seeking solutions to these inequalities now. When society acknowledges that the many prisoners (many of whom are wrongfully incarcerated) are a symptom of a larger societal problems, we may be on our way to fixing underlying issues that contribute to this specific symptom.
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