Photo credit: Facebook

As I logged on to Facebook today, the top item in the ‘trending news’ column was the much-awaited birth of Max, daughter of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan. In the world, as we know it today, Max’s birth is hardly less than a royal birth. And the announcement that goes with her birth is truly befitting her near-royal status. Our bruised and battered world needs people of initiative and spirit to heal and rebuild it, and this is what Max’s parents want to be a part of as they welcome their daughter into the world.

Today the couple has announced the Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative, to which they are donating 99 percent of Facebook shares (currently valued at about US $ 45 billion). The Initiative will collaborate with people and organizations all over the world to advance human potential and promote equality for all children of the future generations. The Initiative’s initial areas of focus will be prevention and cure of disease, personalized learning, connecting people and building strong communities.

In their letter to their newborn daughter Chan and Zuckerberg write:

“As you begin the next generation of the Chan Zuckerberg family, we also begin the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative to join people across the world to advance human potential and promote equality for all children in the next generation … We know this is a small contribution compared to all the resources and talents of those already working on these issues. But we want to do what we can, working alongside many others …”

As I read this, it reminded me of an ancient custom in most traditional communities of the world—to plant a tree when a child was born. In this way, humans used to commemorate a new life in the best way possible—by giving back to Nature more than the resources that the new life would take from it as it grew up. Some communities in far flung corners of the world still follow such life-enriching practices.

Today, with the birth of their daughter, Zuckerberg and Chan have planted more than a tree. They have planted a whole forest for Max and all the children of the future world. If more privileged people of the world were to follow this lead as their children enter the world, the task of enriching the planet for our children would become so much easier. And why only the privileged? Surely, every parent can do something—even as little as helping an underprivileged child. Every little bit counts!