Change Our Story

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

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When Life Isn't What You Make It

11/7/2012 3:32:12 PM

Tags: Peter Buffett, Life Lessons

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

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“Where We Are” by Peter Buffett  

My book, Life is What You Make It, has been received very well. It’s been translated into over 15 languages and sold over a half a million copies. But every time I’m asked to speak about it, there’s a small part of me that just can’t get behind the title.

For many of us, it’s true. We’re defined by the choices we make and the stories we believe. Wrong turns become unpredicted life lessons that help us find our way. Seemingly impossible odds become just the thing that propels us into fulfillment of a destiny unseen at the outset of life’s journey. And certainly committing to a life path is the first sure way of getting there.

But for others, the story we’re born into breaks us before we can get through the first chapter of our lives.

Recently, I spent the afternoon with some beautiful souls—young women who shared their life history with me. I’ve seen what a broken system can destroy. But it’s almost always been on the other side of the world, slightly abstract. Rarely has it been easy to relate to someone’s story as possibly your own. But somehow this was different. These were girls that methodically and personally walked me through their lives from their earliest memories. Describing how their lives were shattered through sexual abuse at an age when most of us were learning to tie our shoes.

How do you say, “Life is what you make it” to those young women and the thousands of women (and men) like them? You don’t.

But here’s what you do: listen.

What I have learned over and over is that giving voice to the truth inside you is the first step in making your life your own. And when you listen, you bear witness to that truth ... that story. Only listening can begin to provide the safety that is required to take a step into life. And real listening—done without judgment, without needing to “save,” without being repulsed—is no small feat. But speaking truth is even harder.

My latest song, Where We Are, was written after meeting these young women. Because I know that we are only as free as the most bound among us. And as long as voices are silent, we will never know where we are as a species on this planet. We will never know how truly evolved we are—assuming that we’re defining evolution as greater acceptance, understanding and love of our fellow man.

As long as the truth is not spoken, we will be living a lie. And that lie will manifest in the societies we create. In every disconnected experience—whether it’s in the food we eat, the things we buy, or the experiences we share—if there’s not truth at the core, it will continue to add to the disharmony that seems to permeate so much of the world around us.

I truly believe that nearly if not all ills this society faces are symptoms. Poverty is not the problem, war is not the problem, obesity is not the problem, a broken education system is not the problem, GMO’s are not the problem, the 1 percent is not the problem.

These are all symptoms of massive disconnection. It is no surprise that the internet exploded like it did with Facebook being the biggest thing on the internet. We crave connection.We need to be seen and heard. We want to be loved.

But Facebook won’t get us there. We’ve moved from an organic ecosystem to a digital ego-system in a few short generations. How do we take the best of what we’ve created (like refrigeration, indoor plumbing, electricity, you know—actually useful things) and marry it with what has worked for thousands of years?

Why are so many people afraid? Hungry? Bought and sold? And not just somewhere else but right in our own backyard.

I don’t think this is human nature. I think we’re better than this. I think we’ve been better than this. What’s the story?

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 mRio, licensed under Creative Commons. 

 

 



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Stewart Brennan
11/29/2012 2:28:25 AM
Life is what you make it applies to higher rank and privilege, because for most of us, life is dictated by a need to survive and so we are thrust into a system that is constantly shrinking and evolving away from morality. It’s been my experience that to get anywhere, you need contacts or friends in high places. Without contacts, one does not stand a chance in a World that is preoccupied with cutting costs, battling inflation and pushing exponential growth…all attributed to the current monetary system in place. My path was in manufacturing until it all but disappeared in ships to Asia. I had no choice but to follow this mfg path as a youth because that is where the population of North America was directed since the end of World War II…Sadly, those days are over and I am left with nothing. That does not mean I cannot do anything else, on the contrary, parallel to working, from 1975 to 1986, I was a successful freelance DJ. That is until CD technology was adopted by 6 major record labels through industry collusion and hostile takeover… Everything was on the decline in the 1980’s so I went back to school to try and give my future a little insurance…I studied electrical engineering and returned to the declining years of manufacturing…oh well. Something my father said to me on his death bed, “Once you have it, they can never take it away from you”…what he was referring to was my education. Well he was right, I still have the education, but “they” were successful in taking the jobs away. I am as disillusioned with the economic system as are the majority of people across North America. I am also a critical thinker and problem solver, but who’s to take notice. Today I am still unemployed, so I put my energy into the last thing I have left…my exceptional ear for music. I started World United Music in 2010 with the objective of promoting great music, most of which was not being played on the radio…of course I don’t expect anything to come of this venture because most of the artists I support will continue to be ignored or have been picked up by the last 3 remaining record labels that control the airwaves. They certainly don’t need me on their payroll when they can get what I offer from my website for free…but at least I feel that I am changing the music industry for the better…I can at least dream a little and that will have to do. As for the main problem affecting us all…it is the way in which the economic system is set up…there is no escaping it while it remains in place…and it is in a death spiral due to exponential growth requirements and inflation, which hits the bottom lines of all corporations and consumers. The solutions required will never be addressed because the ownership of this system resides in a corporate boardroom that has no moral decision making ability because it is responsible for the shareholders or more to the point share owners and it is usually the majority shareholder that calls all the shots…my experience…when the 1% want to stop the madness all they have to do is use common sense, morals, ethics and empathy. The best solution is to change the economic model from consumer based to resource based…give up the concept of money for a concept of betterment for all through education and allowing people to do what they excel at. Once this path is taken, we will experience what was lost, our freedom of spirit, mind, and heart. Stewart

Mike Brenner
11/7/2012 11:35:46 PM
i would argue that in an age when we are more open than ever and everything about us is public, the problem is that we don't have systems in place to psychologically support individuals in pain. in the past, trauma was ignored or internalized. now it's broadcast as a Tweet or Status Update. we have collectively elevated our emotional intelligence to the point where we feel we can make decisions to get ourselves out of unhealthy/unhappy situations. we no longer accept our circumstances like an antiqued caste system. unfortunately, most people are still forced to work through trauma alone. much of the country seems to have an every man for himself mentality. in 2012, we need to learn that if one part of our ecosystem is struggling, it will have a ripple effect that we will all feel.

WALTER PAUL BEBIRIAN
11/7/2012 11:27:38 PM
Everything - whatever it is that we see in the world that has been created by man -whether it is a sewing needle or a railroad train or ice-cream all started as an idea in the mind of a person or different persons - and after that idea - through some procedure of spiritual law was then turned into reality or manifested in the real world - the same goes for everything that we experience and ills that we see - it is to our advantage to be conscious of exactly how the spiritual law works and to then apply that to changing those things that we do not feel serves mankind's best interest - either through your songs which are very honorable and valuable - stories and parables - art - education - plays - movies and whatever other ways that new and improved ideas can be transferred to the individuals that live in our society - that creation of new and improved ideas and then the manifestation of these new and improved ideas in the reality that we live in here on earth - this is the only way that I can see that real and long lasting changes will occur -



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