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Change Our Story

Composer, author and philanthropist Peter Buffett on finding your own path to life fulfillment.

We Can Do Better Than This

Peter Buffett, son of billionaire investor Warren Buffett, is an Emmy Award-winning composer, NY Times best-selling author and noted philanthropist. Currently, he is releasing socially-conscious music and touring his "Concert & Conversation" series in support of his book Life Is What You Make It.
evolution of man 

As I will probably say in many blogs, I’m all too aware that there are people that know way more than I do regarding just about everything I write. Generally, I’m just making observations as a casual but curious (and concerned) bystander. Often I find that my thoughts about a lot of things haven’t changed that much from when I was, say, 4 years old.

So with all that being said. This is what my 4-year-old self thought this week:

I’m surprised that we’re not further along in our development as humans.

We’ve all heard the old, “If they can put a man on the moon, why can’t we have ...” (Something like – “shorter lines at the DMV?”)

But seriously, we’ve gone through some ice ages, fought a gazillion wars, built pyramids, and come up with a bunch of math and science and amazing art. We can put a man on the moon.

We can fly thousands of planes around the world safely everyday and build a network of satellites that move ridiculous amounts of data.

So why are we still calling each other names, trying to hoard all the stuff, and shooting each other?

Is this it? Can you really call the last few thousand years progress? If you’ve been reading earlier blogs, you know I’m a fan of indoor plumbing. And refrigeration is handy. There are plenty of things about our march towards the future that are nice to have around. But we’re still treating each other the same way that we have for a really long time.

Now I use “we” pretty generally. There’s no question that there are pockets of cultures and communities that were not constantly beating each other up in some way. But, on balance, I’m not seeing a great improvement in compassion and respect over time. 

What’s the story? I don’t want to believe that this is it—human nature, etc. I want to believe that we have some evolution left in us.

At this moment, we are the custodians of our future. This is a relatively new concept in its totality. Sure, we know most indigenous communities have a deep understanding of how their actions will effect future generations. But let’s face it: it’s easy to have that worldview when you aren’t facing problems on a global scale. Things are different now. So we have to behave differently. And we’re not.

And because we’re not, we’re going to quite possibly kill our children’s children. Does that get the point across? Do you care about your children’s children? Or will it be enough that you’re off the planet and you got yours?

I think that’s pretty much the world we’re living in. And, again, I use “we” generally. There are billions of people that have no real say in the matter. But we’ll probably kill their children’s children, too.

We’ve got some serious story changing to do.

I think some radical shifts in thinking have to occur. The good news is that we probably behaved pretty well in our deeper past. I actually think human nature is a pretty loving and kind nature. It’s culture that gets in the way. A culture is dead when a set of beliefs kills. And we have a lot of killing going on. And sometimes in very subtle ways.

I think placing blame just feeds the beast. That’s pretty obvious. So what do we do? All say “truce,” lay down our arms, cash in our stocks, shake hands, and have a party? Oh right— my 4-year-old voice can only take me so far.

And John Lennon and Yoko Ono thought of that in the '70:

War Is Over
If You Want It.

I hope we get some folks talking back here. Or over at Change Our Story. I’m not the “end of the world” type. But there are all sorts of graphs that show really terrible things happening if we don’t change our behavior quickly. There’s been a long search for unifying theories—it’s a classic quest. Can we find one that works for mankind?

What do you think? Share your story at changeourstory.com. Visit www.peterbuffett.com to learn more and Change Our Story to join the conversation on how we all can become active participants in shaping our future.  

Image courtesy of DaMenace through Uncyclomedia Commons.