Syria, AKA Something Even More Important Than Miley Cyrus Twerking

A girl stands on debris in Homs, Syria (Reuters, Yazen Homsy)I’m pondering an issue this morning that I care about way more than Miley Cyrus at the Video Music Awards, Although I am definitely a true blooded American when it comes to getting some little rubbernecking thrill out of watching the psychological meltdowns of our celebrities, recorded from multiple angles on the cell phones of other celebrities. Poor Miley. You displaced Kanye West as celebrity most likely to arise in my Metta Meditation. May you live at ease.

I read a lot of articles this morning about President Obama’s pending decision on military intervention in Syria, and am for the millionth time in my life wondering about the ethics of war from the standpoint of somebody who believes strongly in nonviolence. When would Dr. King or  Aung San Suu Kyi intervene? When would my teacher Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche send troops? These are the questions I’m asking right now. The utter slaughter that has been happening in Syria, which probably in a Miley-free media environment would deserve top headline every single night, combined with the use of chemical weapons, which the world has had Strict protocol against using since 1925, seem to make a strong case for intervention.

The age-old question for those of us  trying to train our own minds in nonviolence and nonaggression is this: is war ever justified? Of course, my Shambhala tradition is quick to point out that nonaggression and compassion do not mean becoming a doormat or enabling suffering and confusion to run wild. We often point to stories and artistic depictions of wrathful bodhisattvas, wielding multiple types of weaponry, weaponry ready to slice cleanly and efficiently through aggression wherever it might arise. In fact, each weapon symbolizes a different way to effectively destroy confusion. It’s a really beautiful system of iconography actually that lends wisdom to how we might approach various manifestations of psychological problems without cowering. But we are always speaking metaphorically about wrathful bodhisattvas, we are not the ones with our fingers on any triggers or buttons.

So, to the question “should Obama attack Syria?” The most spiritual and nonviolent thing I can say right now is “I have NO idea.” Despite any critiques I might have of his presidency, today I find myself quite happy I don’t have to make most of the decisions that face him.

(follow Ethan on Facebook or Twitter or Instagram)
(photo from

One thought on “Syria, AKA Something Even More Important Than Miley Cyrus Twerking

  1. Our tradition & teachings do tell us that acting in haste can bring more confusion & violence to a chaotic and murky situation. Skillful means seems to involve – indeed, be predicated on – peacefully abiding in uncertainty until some clearly useful path of action presents itself to our awareness. This can be exceedingly difficult & painful when our mind & gut are in turmoil over the horrors of death & destruction that so often face us, and yet it is precisely this turmoil that keeps the waters of thought churOncening.

    Once we have managed to settle our own personal viewer & view, we will – we hope – see a clear path of action. Sadly, we also must be prepared to face the discovery that the situation itself is murky & confused and that, painful as we find this, any action on our part stands a high chance of worsening the very situation we hope to help heal.

    Calm, focused minds are cautioning now that the current situation in Syria seems tobe just such a one. Can we find the courage & equanimity to listen?

Leave a Reply to Levanah Ruthschild Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.