Why I wish I didn't care about social justice
Sound controversial? Perhaps that’s why you found yourself reading this blog?
Or maybe you can relate, and you’ve found yourself muttering under your breath (or even shouting out loud!) ‘I wish I cared less?!”
Take a big breath with me…
Social justice can be defined in many ways and includes many issues – I’m deliberately using this word broadly – but there might be a particular area or issue you feel passionate about.
For me, I find myself focusing on inequalities (race, gender, sexuality, class, poverty, and the environment). When I think of ‘social justice’ this is where my understanding starts. And it’s also where my wish to not care starts because…
Caring about social justice means I get sad and angry when the world is not how I think it should be. It means I long for change and often feel frustrated when change doesn’t always seem to come (and never as quickly as I want!).
Caring also means I overly critique myself, tell myself I’m not doing enough, and chastise myself for thinking and discussing issues more than actually ‘doing’ anything.
Caring about social justice impacts how I eat, what I buy, what I read, what I talk about etc etc… in short, it takes time and energy.
And truth be told that can all feel too much. I feel exhausted by the magnitude and lose hope. I’m so aware of how complex it is to, you know, unravel whole systems and power structures (that really small, easy task! [sarcastic tone intended]). And I start to think it would be so much easier if I just didn’t care!
BUT, I desperately want a better world
I really do want to pursue a better world – to help bring about social justice. Despite finding myself wishing I didn’t care, the idea of not caring about social justice actually terrifies me!
I care because I believe our planet, its people and how they’re treated matter.
I care because I follow a God who cares about the mess, hurt, and brokenness, and who loves every single human and our world a heck of a lot (way more than I ever could!).
I care because I don’t believe everything has to stay as it is. I’ve caught a glimpse of a better world, and you and I have power to bring that into being.
Perhaps you feel the same?
So, how do we prevent the “I wish I didn’t care!” thoughts creeping in?
Really, when I wish I didn’t care about social justice it’s because I’m tired, lacking hope, and feeling powerless to change everything. If - really - we do want to continue to care about social justice, it’d be a healthy thing to prevent the “I wish I didn’t care” stage creeping in.
Note to self: Potential ways to ward off the “I wish I didn’t care about social justice” thoughts...
Don’t beat yourself up - your identity is not what you do or don’t ‘achieve’ in relation to pursuing social justice
Accept that you can't save the world or solve all its problems (NB: reminder, I’m not God – duh!)
Social justice shouldn’t be all consuming. When it feels like it is, take a step back and enjoy other things guilt-free
Being thankful and clinging on to hope is important – there’s always good happening!
Chasing justice is a life-time pursuit. There is no instant gratification, and there’s unlikely to be a point when we can say: "done". Keep on keeping on, celebrating the wins along the way.
God is a God of justice, but that isn’t His only characteristic. As a Christian, I want to worship God, not worship justice
Perhaps obviously: do something - actively make this world more like God intended it to be... rather than just thinking and pondering the issues!
I hope you find these helpful if you also struggle with the “I wish I didn’t care about social action” thoughts creeping in!
If, like me, you want to be the change we wish to see in the world, sign up for Church Army's Imagine a World emails
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- and be the change you wish to see.
6 November 2020
Hannah is Church Army's Marketing & Communications Officer and co-hosts the Everyone Everywhere podcast with Chris. She's passionate about social justice, the colour green, and marmite on toast.
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