WOW!! Mark Zuckerberg and Dr. Priscilla Chan’s Amazing Messages for Us and Our Children
Photo courtesy of Facebook and Mark and Priscilla Zuckerberg.
Facebook co-founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg announced that he and his wife, Dr. Priscilla Chan, will be donating 99% of their shares in Facebook, valued at approximately $45 billion, to charitable causes in honor of their newborn daughter, Max. The stated aim is to use their immense wealth to help shape the world in ways that will provide a better future and improve the lives of all people in the world. Their main focus is centered on advancing human potential and promoting equality, and their initial goals will include curing disease, connecting people, enhancing personalized learning and building strong communities.
What a touching, noble, incredibly generous and moving act! The donation and the messages that underpin the donation are among the most valuable lessons Mark and Priscilla could teach their daughter and all of us. The best gift we can give our children is to teach them how to shape the world into a better place, and equally important, for us parents to learn the same lessons from our children.
The news of this generous contribution came via an announcement on Facebook in which Zuckerberg and his wife shared a letter to their daughter Max, outlining their intentions for the donated money, as well as an extremely heartfelt collection of thoughts to serve as guiding principles for their daughter. These principles are an essential collection for every family and every child. Some of our favorite ideas from the letter are excerpted, adapted, and expanded upon below. Any deviation from the messages and ideas intended to be conveyed by Mark and Priscilla (whose specific text appears in quotes) is as a result of our changes to their words and the intermingling of our thoughts into theirs.
Critical Wisdom from Mark Zuckerberg and Dr. Priscilla Chan to Build a Better Future for Our Children:
- Children give us a reason “to reflect on the world we hope [they] live in.” It is our responsibility as parents to leave this world a better place than when we found it, and to look not only at our children’s present, but build for their future. We want our children to “grow up in a world better than ours today.”
- As the Zuckerbergs point out, “people are connecting.” The world is shrinking around us, and technology has created a world more logistically connected than ever before. It is our responsibility to take the next step, to go beyond being able to connect with others across the globe and to actually bring about change for the better. “We have a moral responsibility to all children in the next generation” – whether they are next door to us or across the world. “Our society has an obligation to invest now to improve the lives of all those coming into this world, not just those already here” and to show our children that “all lives have equal value.”
- “If society focuses more of its energy on these great challenges, we will leave [our children’s] generation a much better world.” Our priorities need to be on improving the world at large. The challenges that we face require effort today in order to provide hope for tomorrow. “Seeds planted now will grow, and one day, [our children and their children] will see what we can only imagine.”
- “The only way to achieve our full potential is to channel the talents, ideas and contributions of every person in the world.” By working on uniting the world, we arm ourselves with fantastic allies and greater power.
- Promoting a greater sense of equality than exists in our current age is not only an important end in itself, but a means by which we will improve every aspect of life. “Our society must do this not only for justice or charity, but for the greatness of human progress.” Allowing every child of the world equal access to opportunities – “regardless of the nation, families or circumstances they are born into” will improve quality of life as well as the qualities of justice, spirit, and love.
- When it comes to the practical implementation of such changes, we need to improve our understanding of the needs of others. We need stronger communities, stronger relationships, and a greater understanding of peoples from every walk of life. “We can’t empower people if we don’t understand the needs and desires of their communities.” Being inclusive, welcoming, and understanding of the diversity that exists in this world is the first step towards building a global community that works together to solve the most difficult problems of the day.
- Mark and Priscilla explain that by starting young (30 and 31 years old), they “hope to see compounding benefits” throughout their lives. It is important to teach our children that donating to charitable causes need not be something that only comes later in life. When charity becomes a concept that we delay in our lives, waiting until we have more time, more money, or more of whatever we believe we need to give back – we only delay the benefits of charitable work. We must all do and give in whatever ways we can, and empower our efforts by “working alongside many others.”
- Mark and Priscilla’s actions serve as a significant inspiration to others. But they themselves point out that they have made and will continue to make progress “only by standing on the shoulders of experts — our mentors, partners and many incredible people whose contributions built these fields.”
- If our children are to live in a better world, the world we want for them, it has to start with our generation. We cannot leave the problems of today to be dealt with tomorrow. We need to start the ball rolling ourselves, both by doing what we can, and by inspiring the next generation to start their part early, and to learn from both our successes and our failures.
- Finally, Mark and Priscilla share that they “can only focus on serving this community and this mission because [they] are surrounded by loving family, supportive friends and amazing colleagues.” They express hope that those who hear their message “have such deep and inspiring relationships” in their lives as well. They describe how their families, relationships, and communities serve as their greatest power. “Our strength needs to flow from each other. Let your children know how much they mean to you and what you want for them. Providing for our children and the world at large is about deepening our bonds. Such greatness is only possible together.”
The end of Mark and Priscilla’s letter to Max is one of the most touching parts, and an embodiment of their spirit of giving, as well as the message we believe that every parent should try to instill in their children. It reads, “Max, we love you and feel a great responsibility to leave the world a better place for you and all children. We wish you a life filled with the same love, hope and joy you give us.” Mark and Priscilla’s final sentence is based upon the same excited thoughts, wonderment, hopes, reflection and anticipation that my wife and I think about almost daily when it comes to our own 6 children: “We can’t wait to see what you bring to this world.”
Parenthood is about paving the way for our children, teaching them what we know, and equipping them with the tools they need to thrive and to allow those around them and later generations to thrive as well. Our hope in sharing articles like this, and the many positive and important stories we come across is that we give our children lives filled with purpose and meaning so that they can grow to spread love, joy, kindness and improvement throughout the world.
This article is dedicated to the Chen Zuckerberg Initiative. We salute their amazing work and wish them tremendous success in their mission. We hope that Mark and Priscilla (and, in the near future, Max) will have many, many years to continue to use their great talents and wealth to improve the world and the lives of those that they touch.