The Magic of Words


| 6/18/2012 10:13:42 AM


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 .
sunrise BUFFETT

I believe that words can change the world. 

On a personal level, when we say, “I hear you” or “I’m sorry” worlds can change. And inspirational or visionary words by leaders like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. or Mahatma Gandhi have changed the course of history. In the world we live in now, it may be that the collective words of millions will shape the future.

The reason I’m writing these essays is to get conversations started. To find out what others are thinking and feeling. It appears to me that the Internet has allowed the full flowering of the quote by Anais Nin: “We don’t see things as they are ... we see things as we are.”

So who are we?

I can’t be the only one that’s overwhelmed by the amount of content available on the Internet. I’m also amazed by how much of it is consumed. I think that a common narrative will start to emerge out of the many millions of voices expressing themselves through comments sections everywhere ... seriously. Not unlike watching search terms rise and fall on Google, a tag cloud meta-narrative could start to define the mood of a nation ... or region ... or world.

My personal experience with this was when my book, Life Is What You Make It, was released. An article about the book was on the front page of Yahoo.com. Within a few hours about 3,500 comments were posted in reaction to the piece. No one (or very few) could have actually read the book. So whether it was a positive comment or a negative one, the comments really only revealed the feelings of the writer about the concepts the book explored. Attacks or praise for me were completed unfounded ... no one knew my story.

A few people went to my website and wrote to me more directly. I responded to two of the most negative to see if I became a human, would things change? And they did. One woman confided to me that she wasn’t angry—she was scared. She was raising two daughters alone, had pride in her work, and was let go like just another number. I represented something to her; what later became the "one percent" I suppose.

Every day we reveal who we are through the words we use and the actions we take. Actions generally do speak louder than words; for the most part they are more clearly understood.

Words can be confusing. Whether it’s definition or context—and probably a multitude of other reasons—words can get in the way of true meaning.



How accurate is the information contained in the words? How true is the feeling behind them? (a political season brings these questions out in spades).

PETER BUFFETT
6/23/2012 9:31:18 PM

That's a great place to start... redefine "American".. so you're saying what it is to be an American? Would a fact be that you are a citizen of America? But an assumption would be that you share a set of beliefs.... and then it starts to break down from there. One of my opinions is that the concept of a Nation/State (being only a few hundred years old) is not the final form people will join an allegiance to...


Larissa Dahroug
6/22/2012 11:59:35 PM

"American" needs to be redefined. But I am not sure how it should be redefined. I think there needs to be a national discussion regarding this....and I think that discussion has been started in artist studios across the world.


Gwynn O'Neill
6/22/2012 9:59:46 PM

The word "liberal" has a long history, has drastically changed meanings, and is used often without any clear meaning.Also, "truth". I read somewhere that "liberal" is related to the idea that we cannot object to each others ideas because everyone has a right to his own opinion, and all are just opinions anyway. A dangerous situation because we cannot discuss what is true. I just read a somewhat crummy book, but it talks about how we assess what is true. It is called "Truth", by Felipe Fernandez-Armesto. Do you know of a better one? Thank you for starting this discussion.