Mark Zuckerberg gave the commencement address at this year's Harvard graduation which made him feel very good because he dropped out of Harvard and now they gave him the kavod of speaking at their graduation. You know what they say? There is no greater obstacle to knowledge than a formal education....:-)
He speech struck me on a number of levels. Here is my unpacking.
He told the graduates that in order to be happy one needs to live with PURPOSE. This means that one can have 19 years of education including a degree from Harvard and never know what makes a person happy even though if you think about it everything we do is because we want to be happy. That is why we get an education, a job, a spouse, children etc. Ultimately, we believe that those things will make us happy. But many people don't know what really makes us happy. That is why people run after material pleasures and success not realizing that if that is all they have then they will be miserable. So they needed to wait until graduation to find out what makes one happy [at least according to MZ] - PURPOSE.
The problem he then had was - what is one's purpose? He doesn't believe in G-d [so I once read - as if he has one proof that G-d doesn't exist or as if he has done extensive research into philosophical and theological issues and come to the conclusion that there just CAN'T be a G-d. NOT.] so what can have meaning?? We are all just a HUUUUUGE, MIRACULOUS, INCREDIBLE MISTAKE [in his thought and that of many listening]. We developed accidentally from a single cell organism into a money and then into an overdeveloped monkey that spends 4 and a half hours a day on Facebook. So what can our purpose be?? It can't just be having a lot of money because he has more that SIXTY BILLION DOLLARS [I think he can start a kollel for me!!] and he has learned that it is not enough to make him happy.
His answer? Social justice. Do good for others and for the universe [e.g. stop global warming]. He feels that besides the charity he gives - Facebook has done a vast amount of good for the world. I don't know if it is lost on him that in his "merit", millions upon millions upon millions of hours are wasted daily where instead of doing something productive, people are wasting their time on social media. It is true that people need to connect [as he noted]. But this type of connection is not real and has actually been proven to trigger depression [when overdone]. But, nebuch, he needs to feel that his invention is bringing good to the world.
Here is the question - Why should one care about anyone but himself? Why should anyone care about the poor, indigent in India and get them food and clean water or the poor inner city black kids in Detroit and help them get a college education [which in his world is part of one's purpose]? If we are just a soulless combination of cells, tissue, bones and pleasure centers in the brain - then all we should care about is eating, drinking, copulating and anything else that will give us base physical pleasure. But when we live that way we are miserable!! Why?
The answer of course is that we are hard wired to do good and feel good about it. Why? The answer is נשמה שנתת בי טהורה היא. It is not our physical bodies but our G-dly souls that drive us to do good.
He said something else that was fascinating. He said that he says a "Mi Shebeirach" [wondering how the Harvard grads processed those Hebrew words in their minds because he didn't translate] with his daughter before she goes to sleep. I was thinking - "WOW!! No G-d but he davens!!" Then he repeated the "Mi Shebeirach". No mention of G-d. Just some vague appeal to the source of life. It was probably something he learned in Reform "Hebrew School" that allows one to pray without actually believing in G-d.
Why would one daven if there is no G-d? The answer of course is that we are all hard wired to daven. Why? Because our neshama is connected to Hashem, knows there is Hashem and needs to connect. Atheist, agnostic, believer - it doesn't matter. We all know deep down that there is a G-d and need to connect.
What is sad is that all of his social justice and purpose is limited to this little planet. Existence and reality are so much greater that our little world. There are trillions of spiritual worlds, angels, and the eternal human soul. Above everything there is a G-d who is the only absolute, ultimate, reality and to the extent that we connect to Him - we are all connected to everything [as the Rav ztz"l talks about so much, especially in אורות הקודש] . So of course we have to find our purpose in this world. But it is sad when our purpose is [relatively] so small and narrow.
I give us all a bracha that we should lives lives of purpose. But not a contrived, self defined purpose, but something so much greater and real. All of our actions should be connected to the Source of existence, Hakadosh Baruch Hu, and thereby be eternal and everlasting. We should all be able to connect to our neshamos and the unique purpose for which Hashem created us.
I also give Mark Zuckerberg's poor [you read me right!!], suffering neshama a bracha that it should find it's true, holy Jewish purpose and he should be zoche to do teshuva shleima and taste a life of Torah and mitzvos which is worth FAAAAR more than 60 billion dollars.
You think Harvard will ask ME to speak at their next graduation??:-)