Today I am pleased to present my interview with Peter Buffett, a man of many talents with an important message for the world.
About Peter Buffett
Peter Buffett is an Emmy Award-winning musician, author and philanthropist. As Co-chair of the NoVo Foundation with his wife, Jennifer, he has become a well-known activist for social concerns. His projects include his facebook community, Change Our Story, which aims to help individuals, nations, and ultimately our world reframe the past to live a better present and future. He has collaborated with Grammy-nominated recording artist Akon and Grammy-winning artist Angelique Kidjo on human rights inspired songs. And he is currently performing his “Life is What You Make It: A Concert & Conversation with Peter Buffett” series around the world to support his New York Times best-selling book, Life Is What You Make It.
Welcome to my blog, Peter. I’m honored to participate in this interview with you. You’re living a most extraordinary life helping to bring forth a better future for the world. Could you share what growing up was like for you, and what messages and lessons you brought with you from those formative years that help you now in your mission to promote positive change?
Life was surprisingly normal. Of course, it's only a surprise because of who my father became. No one would be surprised at the simplicity and "normalcy" of growing up in a midwestern town if it wasn't for my father's wealth and success. From the "positive change" perspective, my parents were both very equality minded. I grew up in the Civil Rights era and I saw my parents actively do things that made me aware that there was a lot of inequality in the world and it had no basis in fact.... people were people. Everyone has hopes and dreams and they deserve the same possibility of achieving those things.
We humans seem to have forgotten who we truly are, and we’ve created much conflict and sorrow in our world. What are your thoughts on how we drifted away from manifesting our beautiful essence, and what do you think it will take, now and in the future, to bring us into the light of truth?
Wow! okay... big question. I'm writing a weekly blog that tackles some of this.
The short answer, I think, is believing that we live in scarcity. This started way back when agriculture began. When there began to be a surplus - and then it had to be defended.
People started to prey on fear and control through the concept of scarcity. Living in a relationship world as opposed to a transactional world will bring us back. But it's no small thing to change the system that we're in. Culture wants to survive at any cost. And we are in a world where control is king. And "progress" and "growth" mean a return on investment as opposed to living in more healthy relationships - with each other and the environment we live in. I think the wake up call will have to be massive. I don't think it has to be destructive.. but people don't change easily. So it will take something that jolts us back to some fundamental understandings about community and our relationships to each other.
I’m fascinated with the various avenues you’ve chosen in which to share your message—in your music, your writing, your facebook project, and others. I hear heartfelt stories of the human journey in each one. How were you led to speak through these methods of expression, and is there more in the future?
I certainly don't think I could ever stop! So there will be more. I've always been driven to have whatever I'm doing contribute to something larger. I think it probably came from growing up at the time I did. I was so moved by how the music and other art at the time was informed by and helped drive the '60's. I've always felt that art was supposed to help evolve the culture that we're in.
What message do you hope to convey through your book, Life Is What You Make It, and in what ways will this message help us move into a more loving and peaceful world?
I hope that the book helps people connect to their authentic selves. And I think if we live more authentically, we will be connected to each other in real ways - which will definitely lead to a more loving world
In my lifetime I’ve seen great changes in the world, and I see much suffering. But I believe the world has entered an important time of transition and rebirth. What is your dream for our human existence in the future, and how can each of us participate in this time of change?
I do think living authentically is so much of the key. And that comes in many flavors, of course. I hope that we can understand that real relationships are critical. And that we can live in abundance as opposed to scarcity... that more stuff isn't the key to more happiness. Consumer culture has become a religion. Making choices that bring us closer to opening our hearts as opposed to shutting down our connection to ourselves and each other. My blog talks more about this in depth. I think there are many paths...
Thank you, Peter, for sharing with me and my readers. I so appreciate your message and the work you’re doing to bring your vision for humanity to reality with positive changes in our world. I wish you continued success on your journey.
I would like to conclude with an excerpt from your book, Life Is What You Make It: Find Your Own Path to Fulfillment. This passage touched me deeply, and I would like for my readers to also find meaning in your message.
What are you waiting for?…This is a very personal book, so let me end it on a personal note.As I’ve said from the start, I make no claim of special expertise in the conduct of life, still less in the mystery of life’s meaning. It is not my ambition to be seen as a counselor. Here and there in these pages, I do presume to offer advice, and I make no apology for that. There are certain things I passionately believe to be true. Where I can make a case for those truths, where I think I can provide some clarity and perspective, I have not been shy about doing so.But, from my own point of view, offering advice to you, the reader, is only a small part of what this book has been about. First and foremost, this book has been a way for me to think out loud.“The unexamined life is not worth living.” Plato wrote that, and it’s only become more true in the two and a half millennia between his time and ours. Life moves faster and faster; it grows more and more filled with distractions. As clutter builds up at the periphery—cell phones, instant messages, the unremitting bombardment of the media—it becomes ever more challenging to filter out the noise, to remember where the center is. This book has given me the opportunity to sit quietly and enjoy the great luxury of some quality time in and around that center.What have I found there?Most basically of all, I’ve found gratitude.Gratitude to my mother, for her life lessons in tolerance, trust, and boundless curiosity about other human beings. Gratitude to my father, for his example of self discipline, hard work, and tireless pursuit of a destiny chosen by himself. Gratitude to my wife, for her true partnership in all the things that matter to us as we continue to grow as individuals. I’ve discovered a heightened gratitude, too, for music. I’ve always loved music, of course; now I see it as nothing short of a miracle. That certain tones and rhythms can provide solace and joy, can break down barriers between people and say things that words cannot—this is amazing! To participate in the miracle of music as a composer and performer has been, and remains, an enormous privilege. Not everything I’ve discovered at the center of my thoughts has been quite so pleasant, of course. Looking back at my younger self, I’ve found much to scratch my head about.Might I have made more of my opportunities in formal education? Why did it take me as long as it did to embrace my musical calling? Why did I let my insecurities control me at this or that juncture? Why, even as a so-called adult, did I make certain blunders that, in retrospect, seem obvious and avoidable?I have no airtight answers to these questions. But the writing of this book has provided me with a useful framework for considering them. Considering them calmly, without excuses or embarrassment, without the corrosive residue of guilt that often attaches to mistakes we don’t admit. I can’t undo my errors; I can’t disown them. What I have been able to do is learn from them, to accept them as part of the mix of things that have made my life uniquely my own.But mistakes are one thing; regrets are another. Mistakes happen and generally are over with. Regrets linger. A mistake is an event. Regret is atmospheric.It’s fashionable, I think, to deny having any regrets, to claim that, if one could live life over again, one wouldn’t change a thing. Frankly, I think this is boastful nonsense, or maybe just symptomatic of a life that hasn’t been examined. Over the course of years and decades, regrets both small and large tend to accumulate. How could they not, given how many choices we face each day, how many times we are challenged to rise to an occasion? Regrets are nothing more or less than evidence of having lived; they’re like the little scrapes and scars that line our knees and elbows. The good news is that after a while they don’t hurt anymore; but it’s dishonest to pretend they aren’t there.When I think about my own regrets, a subtle but persistent pattern emerges: My regrets cluster around those moments when I failed to heed the advice of the Goethe quote with which I began this epilogue.I regret my hesitations.I regret the times I sold short the mysterious power of commitment itself.Commitment moves the world. It both powers and heals us; it’s fuel and medicine together. It’s the antidote to regret, to apathy, to lack of self-belief. Commitment batters down closed doors and levels bumpy roads. Commitment begets confidence and also justifies confidence.Commitment enlarges our efforts by drawing on those deep-down resources that lie fallow until we determine to discover them and use them.So, in closing, I will say to you the same thing I have said to myself a thousand times: Your life is yours to create. Be grateful for the opportunity. Seize it with passion and boldness. Whatever you decide to do, commit to it with all your strength . . . and begin it now.What are you waiting for?