The Magic of Words

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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 bookLife Is What You Make It.

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).

But words can also
unlock universal truths. And they are clearly the most direct way people who
speak the same language can relate to each other. Whether it’s ordering lunch
or considering the order of the universe.

Choose your words
carefully. If eyes are the windows to the soul, words are a window to the
brain … and the heart.

And, of course,
stories are just words strung together into a narrative. So if there’s a need
to change some stories that don’t work for us–either individually or
collectively–we need to study the words used and the definitions agreed upon.

What words do you
think need a new definition? And what would that new definition be?

Visit www.peterbuffett.com and Change Our Story to learn more.

Image by LouisvilleUSACE, licensed under Creative Commons.

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