Facebook founder and Silicon Valley tycoon Mark Zuckerberg recently wrote a heartfelt and inspiring open letter to his newborn daughter, Max, along with his wife Priscilla Chan. The couple welcomed their first child into the world on Wednesday, 2nd December, 2015.
Upon the birth of his daughter, the world’s youngest self-made billionaire decided on a rather unusual way of celebrating the new arrival. The letter he wrote to his child, as well as sharing it with his millions of followers and fans, can probably be counted among the most inspiring and hopeful birthday gifts ever!
Your mother and I don’t yet have the words to describe the hope you give us for the future. Your new life is full of promise, and we hope you will be happy and healthy so you can explore it fully. You’ve already given us a reason to reflect on the world we hope you live in.
Thus began the letter that is set to change not only the lives of the Zuckerberg family but that of millions of children around the world.
In this letter the billionaire, worth an estimated 45.2 billion dollars, has pledged to donate 99% of his wealth for various charitable causes during his lifetime itself. The exact worth of this donation could not be verified, and if Facebook stocks continue to rise the amount to be finally donated might increase exponentially over a period of time, resulting in a donation far greater than present estimates.
We believe all lives have equal value, and that includes the many more people who will live in future generations than live today. Our society has an obligation to invest now to improve the lives of all those coming into this world, not just those already here.
So the letter continues, elucidating the Chan-Zuckerberg family’s views and ambitions on various social topics ranging from poverty, hunger, education to technological development and connectivity.
While headlines often focus on what’s wrong, in many ways the world is getting better. Health is improving. Poverty is shrinking. Knowledge is growing. People are connecting. Technological progress in every field means your life should be dramatically better than ours today.
The letter spells hope and caution in equal measure, stressing on how Zuckerberg and his wife want their daughter to grow up in a better, freer world than we live in today, and the sacrifices they are willing to make to ensure that that dream comes true.
While many have hailed the move as noble and inspiring, the letter has also attracted some critics who have questioned the timing and the motives behind the initiative.
However, this is by no means the first time that Mark Zuckerberg has shown his philanthropic side to the world. Years ago, he was one of the first signatories to the Giving Pledge initiative started by Bill Gates, where Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and business leaders promised to donate at least 50% of all their wealth to various charitable causes, either before or after their death. Zuckerberg is one of many American billionaires to want to spare their children the burden of a large inheritance that might hinder their personal and professional growth, instead redirecting their resources to the development of the world as a whole. Bill Gates himself has pledged at least 95% of his vast fortune to charitable causes.
Our hopes for your generation focus on two ideas: advancing human potential and promoting equality.
Continues the letter, chalking out a detailed plan of investment on sustainable development, global growth and personalized education. This will be the most mammoth of Zuckerberg’s charitable initiatives to date, making use of a limited liability company instead of the more common NGO model, which will give the founders greater control over policy decisions and enable them to have a say in the matters of governance of the countries where the foundation operates.
Whether or not this new model succeeds in improving on the more traditional methods of charity remains yet to be seen. However, Zuckerberg’s noble intentions in taking the initiative to make the world a better place for not only his own child but all children everywhere must be appreciated and will hopefully inspire others to make similar decisions.
We wish all the very best to Mark Zuckerberg and his family in this new and exciting phase of their lives!