Editor’s Note: An Open Letter to Mark Zuckerberg
Written By J. Randolph (December 01, 2015)
Our organization is all about recognizing people who sacrifice for the betterment of their communities and society. Oddly enough, I dismissed someone today who made a huge commitment to these ideals and for that, I am sorry.
Today, it was announced that Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan Zuckerberg would be giving away their fortune. Approximately 99% of their shares of Facebook will be sold off to benefit various charities around the world. Zuckerberg will maintain controlling interest in his company but much of the financial wealth he has now spent years attaining will be redirected and redistributed to “advance human potential and promote equality for all”.
Zuckerberg announced the decision in an open letter to his newborn daughter Max which was posted to Facebook. I saw a news article via Twitter and my initial reaction was skepticism. “Sure he’s giving away billions, he’s sitting on billions more”, I thought to myself. But as I read the actual letter to his daughter, I was humbled and retrospectively ashamed of myself. Ever since I was too young to articulate the thoughts, I’ve always preached about integrity and moral responsibility. I’ve decried how society moves backwards in its celebration of selfishness. Yet faced with someone actually acting on the principles I’ve so often spoken about, I was quick to dismiss it as inauthentic and manipulative. I’ve loosely followed the progress of Facebook and its creation throughout the years. The story was compelling to me not because of inherent reverence for the CEO’s wealth but to see what persona the man behind Facebook would take on as his vision for the social media juggernaut came to fruition.
Part of me wondered if he would become a media mogul like pioneering tech giant Steve Jobs or maybe he’d turn into a power-hungry venture capitalist. I thought, he’s smart enough, rich enough, and creative enough to become one of those self righteous attention seekers that spend their days campaigning for their spot as “greatest mortal who ever lived”…a self-proclaimed and self aggrandizing genius among geniuses. However a few years ago, I saw a report about a campaign called Internet.org, which was spearheaded by Zuckerberg. The program was a think-tank of big businesses trying to bring internet connection to underserved regions and communities across the globe.
And then today I read words not from a business owner, or an executive, but rather from a global citizen…a father, a man. I saw someone expose their hopes for a better world and accept moral responsibility for helping to make that world a possibility. Modern day heroes don’t exist in part because we don’t allow them to. As someone who prides themselves on creating a platform for such heroes…hard working people with a code of ethics and integrity, I want to say “Thank You” to Zuckerberg. I don’t know if you will ever read this but if you do, I want you to know that your words and actions aren’t just gestures of good faith for what is to come; they are tangible and reaffirming inspirations to people who work hard every day to make this world a better place for those around them. I know that the world I’ve always envisioned isn’t possible without people taking steps to analyze, address, and then act against the forces that block progress for all of us. You and your wife have done that. For that, I am grateful. And for the sake of your beautiful daughter and all the children who might one day see your vision of a better world realized, I hope that more people will follow in the blueprint of your commitment. Again many thanks.
“The best of us are those that make this world a better place for all of us. “
– J. Randolph