The Friends School of Atlanta
Who says three wishes has to be the limit? NPR asked luminaries like Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai and the White House’s Raj Panjabi and others to share their dreams for the coming year.
Then NPR put out the call to you: If money were no object and you had unanimous support, what would you wish for the world in 2023? From near and far, including a teacher from The Friends School of Atlanta who sent in her students’ wishes, here’s a selection of your thoughts.
Submissions were edited for length and clarity.
Cherish our pale blue dot
My dream for human kind is that people would stop trashing the ocean. –Mira, 1st Grade
My wish is that each child is taught the basics of ecology and our total reliance on natural systems. Many children have no idea where their water comes from or where their waste goes. Without a knowledgeable population, policies that benefit all of us are hard to achieve. –Jane Eller, retired director of the Kentucky Environmental Education Council, a state agency
Extend the olive branch
My dream for humankind is for people to have peaceful days everyday in their souls. –Shannon, 1st grader
My wish is for the Russia/Ukrainian war to cease rapidly and diplomatically. Loss of lives, obliteration of dwellings, civic and cultural structures and the possibility of nuclear weapon usage has placed the world in peril. The billions of dollars spent should have gone to address climate change and global food insecurity. –Sarah Wright, retired pediatrician from Oregon
My wish for 2023 is that leaders of all countries could fly into orbit to view our planet from space. I am of the opinion that this experience would have a profound impact on each leader and provide perspective on priorities. –Carter Alexander, Suwanee, Georgia
My wish for 2023 is that wherever you are, find win-win-win solutions to problems. Many people play win-lose games in all aspects of life without understanding what winning is or realizing more people are impacted than the two competitors. Sometimes simply being able to compete is a win. Many are not so lucky. Children are always watching. If they observe us creating win-win-win solutions without demeaning “losers” they will naturally want to do the same. –Joel Stegner, retired market research director, Edina, Minn.
My dream for humankind is for everybody to have peace in their family. A kind family would be kind to their children and help them to be kind to others. –Seva, 1st grade
My wish is that gun violence can be prevented. While the U.S. is an outlier in unsafe gun laws, the problem of gun violence is global. My son often tries to imagine his 11-year-old life in a place without the threat of gun violence, and it breaks my heart that he may never have that experience. –Kelsey Power, owner of Charleston Power Family Garden, a mini orchard and market garden in St. Louis, Mo.
Let kids be kids
My wish for 2023 is that we recognize that an 18-year-old person is not fully an adult except legally. While many of us know 18-year-olds who are quite mature, the human brain does not complete its neurological development until approximately age 25. One of the final brain regions to develop controls executive function – guiding decision-making and supporting the management of impulses. Yet, we in the U.S. subject 18-year-olds to an adult court jurisdiction in a criminal proceeding. An 18-year-old can get married, get a tattoo, donate blood, play the lottery or get involved in some forms of online gambling. They can enlist into military service and even go into the battlefield. When we let 18-year-olds help decide the outcome of a legal case for another person as a juror, we are putting decision-making into the hands of a person who cannot reliably avoid impulsive decisions. We let people who turn 18 buy firearms. Why are the rental car companies the only group to take into account this vital neurological fact? Is it because they have something valuable to protect? Don’t we all? –Jill Pulley, executive director of the Vanderbilt Institute of Clinical and Translational Research at Vanderbilt University Medical Center
My wish for 2023 is for global leaders to tackle the current education crisis and the impact it has on some of the world’s most marginalized learners. This crisis has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Before the pandemic, as many as 33 million children with disabilities were out of school, the majority in lower-income countries. These children, especially girls with disabilities, are less likely to go to school and more likely to be illiterate than children without disabilities. It would be great to see children with disabilities included in mainstream education and in data collection. This requires both funding and training educators. All of this work should be done with the input of those with lived experience of disability so their voices are heard. –Liesbeth Roolvink, deputy technical director for inclusive education at the international development organization Sightsavers
My dream for human kind is for everyone to have homes. The homes would be nice. And the homes would have all of the resources they need. –Francis, 1st grade
My wish for 2023 is a forever home (a safe place to stay for the rest of their lives) for all the pets in the world, without risk of abuse. –Susie Lipton, a pediatric infectious disease specialist who lives on a small farm in Maryland
My wish is to put bureaucracy aside and take all those office buildings and parking garages that emptied out during the pandemic, all those malls that are foundering, barely surviving or are abandoned, all those high-rises with entire floors empty, all the blighted empty lots and long-abandoned structures — and house so many of those that are unhoused, all over the world. Provide a place in these structures for social services to help the unhoused find the services they need. –Genevieve Foskett, former librarian, Wisconsin
Soup up the solar grid
My wish is to have free electricity for all households. There is tremendous untapped solar potential across the world, enough to feed energy into the grid and provide low-cost electricity to businesses to offset the cost of transmission and maintenance. Creating free electricity for electric vehicle charging stations would eliminate the biggest hurdle to widespread adoption of electric vehicles. –Rick Palmeri, retired computer guy and full time dreamer, Connecticut
Make workdays safer and healthier
I hope that businesses can prioritize workplace health and safety. Every single day, 7,500 people die globally from unsafe and unhealthy working conditions. Working with governments, universities and other nonprofits, we can change the narrative by saving lives that otherwise would be lost or become non productive to society and the economy. –Bernard L. Fontaine, Jr., managing partner of The Windsor Consulting Group, Monroe, N.J.
My wish for 2023 is for everyone to be treated with dignity, regardless of age, gender, race, ethnicity, nationality, sexual orientation or any other identity. Everyone has the right to be treated with dignity, and I strive to create an environment where this is the norm. I believe that creating a more equitable, peaceful and just world starts with how we treat one another. Dignity is integral to our sense of self-worth and self-respect. It is also essential for our relationships with others, allowing us to be seen and respected for who we are. –Immy Mulekatete, communications enthusiast with the United Nations Resident Coordinator’s Office in Rwanda.
Gisele Grayson and Carmen Drahl are freelance editors. Thanks to Miriam Kshensky Arensberg and Celest Samas, 1st grade teachers at The Friends School of Atlanta, and to everybody who submitted a wish.