The BP oil spill in the Gulf is truly a disaster. The impact to the environment, wildlife, and economy in the area will be felt for years to come. I believe BP should be held accountable for cleaning up it’s mess, they were smart to go along with Obama’s $20 million+ request – its the responsible thing to do, and good PR which they certainly want and need. I understand, in fact I’m in full agreement, with the horror, frustration, and anger that is felt as we watch billions of gallons of oil turn a beautiful body of water into a tar pit.

What I can’t agree with is the emotional knee-jerk reaction leading to the “Boycott BP” and “Bankrupt BP” sentiments. When people hurt, no matter if its physical, emotional, in sympathy with another’s pain, or whatever… often the immediate feeling is to hurt back. However, as I’ve mentioned in other posts, when we are emotional our capacity for making clear choices is destroyed. Its a function of our lizard brains – filled with instincts that served our ancestors so well when fight or flight was a matter of life or death. Nowadays, matching hurt with hurt is a useless, vicious cycle that does nothing but add more suffering to a bad situation.

Boycotting BP stations  is emotionally fulfilling on a personal level, but does nothing to hurt Corporate BP. Corporate would shrug off the failure of a few individual BP stations like an elephant swats at flies with his tail, just a minor annoyance. Boycotting individual stations does hurt the station’s owner, however. This guy has invested thousands of dollars into his franchise, and paid top dollar for the right to put BP’s logo on his pumps. In fact, I’d bet he’s got a contract that says he’s pretty much stuck with BP for a certain number of years and breaking that contract would bring the wrath of  BP’s legal department, ending in bankruptcy. The station owner pays his taxes and plays his part in our economic recovery – we don’t need more small businesses failing right now. All the station owner wants to do is pay his mortgage and feed his family like anyone else. He didn’t know this disaster would happen, and it really doesn’t matter which oil company he went with because they all play the same games – it just happened that BP was the unlucky schmuck to get shot playing Russian Roulette.

Oh, so that leaves us with somehow bankrupting Corporate BP, you say? Again, while emotionally fulfilling this would also bring it’s own flavor of disaster. Besides the fact that BP is a huge part of Britian’s economy – which is tightly knitted to ours (and the world’s), BP is one of the blue-chip, supposedly stable giant corporations that pension funds and IRA managers love. When our economy’s near-failure shook the globe, we rattled the economy of every other country on the planet. They don’t need economic instability any more than we do. I’m no expert, but BP might be one of those companies that is too big to fail – or at least would cause one hell of a huge ripple if it did.

So what to do with the anger? Well, I don’t know. I’d love to travel down to the gulf to help wash pelicans but my own economic recovery requires me to work my 9 to 5 every day. And since I haven’t seen requests for lay people to come down and help, I suppose you’d need a certain level of training to be qualified to bathe wildlife. Maybe less for scooping up tarballs? I suppose the best thing we can do – as lame and emotionally unfulfilling as it feels, is to make a hell of a lot of noise demanding Congress put some regulations with teeth in place and clean up the bureaucracies that were supposed to be watching these companies.