Rabbis Without Borders
Rabbis Without Borders is a dynamic forum for exploring contemporary issues in the Jewish world and beyond. Written by rabbis of different denominations, viewpoints, and parts of the country, Rabbis Without Borders is a project of Clal – The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership.
Dear Max Chan Zuckerberg,
Welcome to this world! Now that you are old enough to read this letter, your father is no longer the eighth richest person in the world. As you know, when you were born your parents announced the funding of the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative with 99% of their Facebook shares, which at the time of your birth meant a donation of about $45 billion.
Your father was prescient in understanding the power of connectivity and social media from the very beginning of that technological phenomenon. I believe he and your mother will have rightly set you on a course to be a leader in your young generation, just and they were in theirs. Here is why:The Millennial generation, the young adults a few years older than you were already suspicious of government solutions proposed by both political parties. They had been badly burned by market collapse and the skyrocketing cost and debt it took to feed our ever-growing economy. Rightly, they lost trust in us, the generation that bequeathed them major challenges. This is how the Washington Post put it:
“88 percent of millennials saying they only “sometimes” or “never” trust the press. Wall Street doesn’t fare much better, with 86 percent of millennials expressing distrust. Congress is at 82 percent. Three in four millennials (74 percent) sometimes or never trust the federal government to do the right thing, and two in three (63 percent) feel the same way about the president. The Supreme Court, once a beacon of trust society-wide, isn’t seen that way by millennials, with 58 percent saying they only sometimes or never trust the nation’s highest court to do the right thing. Heck, even local police aren’t spared; 50 percent say they trust the cops only sometimes or never to do the right thing, while 49 percent said they trust police “all” or “most” of the time.”
Millennials don’t trust anyone. That’s a big deal,Washington Post
Lucky for you, Max, those same Millennials have already started to lead the way. While they didn’t trust the institutions they inherited from their parents, they did have a high regard for their individuality and their own sense of purpose. In Positive Psychology we might call this ‘spirituality’ -having coherent beliefs about the higher purpose and meaning of the universe (viacharacter.org). Max, it seems that the generation of young adults when you were born understood that a major shift had to take place. We could no longer count on greater and great financial wealth as a measure for our progress. Instead, you were born into a world where profits started to give way to prophets, people with vision and caring purpose began to create businesses that measured themselves not only with dollars, but in giving back to the communities they operate in, and far beyond.
The fastest growing number of new corporation in America at the time of your birth were B. Corporations. The B. stands for benefit. These new corporations were not only held accountable to their shareholders to make a profit, but also to make a difference to the community at large. Think Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream or Tom’s Shoes, and many others.
Max, around the time when you were born, the Western world began to use the acumen and agility of for-profit businesses to make real progress for our planet. Thanks to your parents, you’ll be a big part of that positive change that is already underway. Here is what your parents wrote to you when you were born:
“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. We can’t wait to see what you bring to this world.” –A Letter to Our Daughter,Facebook
I could not have said it better, young Max. Find your purpose, Dear One. We’re counting on your generation to be a generation of prophets not simple of profits. So make an impact on the world for the good! You can do it! If you have to, use your remaining $450 million as seed money.