Ethical Fatigue

When Mary Wollstonecraft, an activist and women’s rights campaigner, began writing about injustice, she was described as a woman who ‘went off on one like a blender with the lid off’. While sometimes we may equally feel bursting with passion and energy to rage against injustice in this world… what happens we run out of juice?

In too deep?

We see oceans filled with plastic and suddenly it’s all too obvious where we are going wrong. Our inability to go completely zero waste is obvious in every shopping trip. We remain disheartened by rubbish-covered beaches and queues at coffee shops, where drinks go in yet more disposable cups. We see the latest statistics of those trapped in slavery. News of factories exposed for unethical treatment of workers and disregard for the natural environment is endless. Disposable culture is suddenly all around us, but now our eyes are OPEN…and it can be EXHAUSTING. You rush out and get a reusable water bottle, a reusable coffee cup, maybe a travel cutlery kit. One step further and you’re making even more decisions… Fairtrade bananas or the package free ones? Soy milk in an un-recyclable carton or milk in a glass bottle?

These choices can take up hours of our time, consume our energy and sometimes our passion for why we were making these lifestyle changes in the first place. Add to that the backlash you sometimes get from those close to you and it can be tough to keep up the fight. To act countercultural can be so difficult it becomes almost radical – to reject the natural order, rip up the status quo and live differently in the pursuit of biblical justice.

So when ethical fatigue kicks in, how do we keep going?

An excerpt from a sermon I love, states that we must remain firm in our faith in the kingdom of God, rather than our attempt to build it. As Archbishop Thabo encourages we should ‘step back from the unrealistic expectations of a seeing a fully restored Kingdom of God today, but to resist a fatalism that believes nothing can change’. So if this is where we start, with a healthy dose of realism, but a faith in a God much bigger than our actions, how do we continue in the face of backlash, fatigue and lack of motivation? The key is connection and reconnection.


Reach out to other like-minded people, whether online or in person. They can inspire you when you’re feeling burned out and vice versa! Join Facebook groups that are full of people pursuing similar things to you. Not only will you learn more, but it’s also inspiring to see thousands of other people making better, more conscious choices.


It’s important to constantly remind yourself of your motivation and passion for making lifestyle changes and root yourself in that. Reconnect with why you’re doing what you do, instead of getting caught up in the constant ‘how’. How to make a change, how to keep making a difference and all the choices that come with that. It’s important to reconnect with things that originally inspired you. Perhaps this means re-watching a documentary, re-reading an impactful book or seeking out something similar.

It’s important that you spiritually reconnect too. Dig into God’s word again to understand his heart for his people and the earth. As we re-align ourselves with the biblical principles of justice, we leave space to reconnect with our intentions and desire to live differently. Maybe this looks like spending an evening with your bible and a journal, digging deeper into his word and reconnecting with our faith in God’s restoration of the earth. It’s a chance to remember that it’s not our sole burden to see that restoration, rather it’s our role to see our daily actions and lifestyle changes as acts of worship.

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