A friend of mine recently posed an interesting question on Facebook: What if “Gangnam Style” is a rain dance, and we brought Superstorm Sandy on ourselves?
“Gangnam Style,” for those who have escaped the epidemic, is a YouTube video that has gone viral, especially among teens and despite the fact that it is incomprehensible – other than the words “hey, sexy ladies” – to those who do not speak Korean.
Meanwhile, the idea that Sandy is some sort of karmic punishment has been circulating as everyone tries to find an answer for the devastation and despair across the Northeast U.S. The issue, as I see it and at least in part, is that some people are using the idea of karma as a way to place blame for the natural disaster on others.
A Disturbing Trend
We read recently in the Torah portion of Noach that G-d destroys the entire world because of the sins of the people; now, a storm has hit the cultural center of the universe (our beloved Manhattan), and many say it’s too spooky to be mere coincidence. That’s certainly not what I believe.
I’ve heard far too many authorities say that Sandy is a punishment for some political group, religions and other sorts of belief systems. I even actually heard a rabbinic leader say that gay marriage brought the hurricane upon us.
And beyond these misguided thoughts, the idea that this devastation was intentionally enacted on any certain group gives people power: It would follow that, if you caused it, then you can take it away and no one has to worry about where it will strike next.
In other words: If the hurricane came to yell at New Yorkers, according to this logic and as long as we don’t do anything to upset it, we will be fine.
But playing the blame game can be dangerous. We can’t stand up and say that New York was flooded because G-d doesn’t like this candidate or this new law or this new temple; it will get us absolutely nowhere. If we go off in the direction, all it will do is turn us against each other.
As a high school student, hearing such talk from my leaders is scary – do they want me to think
that no one is safe here and that if I disagree with these opinions, my city will be flooded? How can we build a society with that sort of thought process?
The blame game hurts everyone – those tossing barbs, those blamed and even folks just hearing the toxic conversation. We learn from what we hear, and this is what we are hearing right now. It’s a problem, because at the end of the day, hurricanes are part of the natural order of things. Science does not have an agenda and storms aren’t called natural disasters for nothing.
So, what does this have to do with the viral “Gangnam Style” video?
Essentially, the video is pointless, mostly filled with goofy choreography. It’s actually a parody of itself. I’m pretty certain that most people seeing the video have no idea what’s going on – the words are gibberish, and there seems to be no point to the production.
Still, most everyone adores it: It’s become the focus of online memes, status updates and even random flash-mobs on the street. Maybe it’s become our society’s battle cry.
The good news is that it’s a fairly harmless video, and, to tell the truth, I think we’ve become attached to it because it really has no meaning at all.
Blaming “Gangnam Style,” as my friend jokingly suggested, is a way of relieving the stress we’ve put ourselves under. The video is silly and arbitrary, and it’s psychologically laughable to say that this pointless video brought a hurricane down on us.
If we absolutely must blame someone, then I suggest we start pointing our finger at Mother Nature.
BY EDEN FARBER / AJT Contributor
Editor’s note: Eden Farber, 15, is a sophomore at Yeshiva Atlanta. She was recognized in the Jewish Heritage National Poetry Contest of 2010 and has published op-eds and poetry in Modern Hippie Magazine and the NY Jewish Week’s Fresh Ink for Teens section.