"Once the World Was Perfect" was written by former U.S. poet laureate Joy Harjo, a member of the Muscogee Creek Nation, and published in the 2015 collection Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings. The free verse poem condemns the divisive power of greed while also celebrating the unifying power of kindness. As the title suggests, the poem depicts a time when the world was "perfect" and human beings lived in harmony with each other and with the planet. Doubt and selfishness made people turn on each other, however, destroying the world and casting humankind into darkness. People are only able to rebuild what they destroyed by treating each other with compassion and working together, constructing a metaphorical ladder that leads to the "light" of a better future.