Don’t Hate Mel Gibson … And Buy Your Gas From BP – Part2

Similar to yesterday’s point of society giving us permission to “hate” someone like Mel Gibson, we are also given license to hate companies and positions. The obvious would be BP. During our mission trip to New Orleans, we filled up several times at a BP station. One instance, the students booed and suggested we fill up at the one across the street. In full youth pastor mode, I explained that of course we are to be grieved by the oil spill, it did not make sense to boycott the entire company, especially the local gas station workers who are trying to make an honest living. At a couple of stops, I talked to one of the owners who expressed that he was completely stressed out.

This led to some excellent group discussion in the vans for some of us that expanded from the gas station worker to the corporate workers of places like BP. It very easily could be one of their/my parents who was fortunate enough to have a decent job and now with public backlash, be at risk of being laid off. Even further, many have agreed that it may be in our collective best interest to keep BP in business so they can afford to clean up the mess and pay for all the damages.

Last year’s BP were companies like Citigroup, Lehman Brothers, Goldman Sachs, AIG (this link is literally entitled Cavuto: Go Ahead, Hate AIG), Wall Streeters, Bernie Madoff and maybe even all capitalists in general. Again my point is not to defend subprime loan lenders, bailouts, convicted and/or alleged thieves, or even capitalists in general, but to maintain the position that we can not justify this blind loathing towards others, even if they are companies.

Living in North Jersey, we have people in our church and local community who work for some of the aforementioned companies. Some are mid-level accountants, tech specialists and administrative assistants and such. Though I have been wrong before, I cannot imagine they are the conspirators and swindlers that have left thousands in ruin. One person expressed his personal frustration with the public backlash but expressed that he has made similar judgments upon others too. And that’s what makes this so complicated.

When we blindly punish companies with boycotts and criticism, we also hurt many sincere, hard-working people as well. Our disgust may be directed to people like Tony Hayward, his golfing pals and to those that failed to provide a safe working environment for their employees and took liberties with our waters but we need to make sure we channel our frustration in appropriate and even merciful ways.

Don’t hate BP, buy your gas from there. Maybe even speak to the attendants and try to encourage the local owner – It’s a rough time for many.

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