Champions of the Global Goals: Rhonda Johnson

Rhonda Johnson June 13, 2016 About YourCause

This article is part of the “Champions of Global Goals Series” where YourCause employees share their connection to the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals.


Rhonda Johnson with Goals written on handsI’m equally passionate about Goal 16 (Peace and Justice) and Goal 4 (Quality Education).

These two goals are inextricably linked. For if we are to be an inclusive society that promotes peace and justice, then quality education is one indicator of such society.

At its base, I define justice as valuing all people the same since we are born equal.

When we have unjust laws and governments, we are essentially saying to a particular group, “you are not valuable to us.” In sending this message, we are unwittingly waging a war against peace.

In the words of Frederick Douglass, “Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe.”

This is evidenced in our society today (developed and developing countries alike).

On a personal note, I cringe to think that if I were born to different parents, reared in an at-risk neighborhood where trafficking, drugs, underserved schools, and violence were commonplace; my life would be vastly different. I wouldn’t be writing these words and you wouldn’t be reading them. I cringe even more when I imagine the world that my great grandmother endured. I vividly recall Saturday mornings waking up to her homemade pancakes as a child, oblivious to the horrors that she’d seen or the truths that the lines on her face told or the scars on her hands revealed. I often wonder if I would have had the courage to live her life. Perhaps, I would not, but I know that she believed that knowledge is power. She and my great grandfather labored to save money to send my grandmother to college and create a new way of life for generations away.

This is why I believe that education is a tool, an avenue, a mechanism that allows you to transcend poverty, change your destiny, and author your own story.

Education is empowering and transformative. Education doesn’t discriminate or show favoritism. Education says you can be born with nothing and morph into a doctor, lawyer, educator, or businessman.

Nelson Mandela said that education is the most powerful tool that we can use to change the world. I’ll take it a step further and say it’s the most powerful tool that we can use to change ourselves.

Justice says irrespective of where you were born, you have the same opportunities to be successful. Education says, until justice arrives, here’s your way out.

Learn more about the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, and see how you can support Goal 16 and Goal 4.