Ultimately what Watson offers is a sense of relief and release, which is a very human thing to strive for in times of difficulty and uncertainty. Studies in psychology show that we are continuously motivated to establish a sense of equilibrium and calm, to move away from and even avoid stress and anxiety. Studies also show that stress and anxiety help us to grow, challenge us to be more than what we are, bring us more fully into our potential. What also comes to mind is the adage about great art coming out of great adversity. So it would seem that our task ultimately is not to explain, justify or turn away from that which is challenging and sometimes incomprehensible but instead to learn how to abide with it, to rest in the tension of the competing views and conflicting information and complex emotions, so that out of it we may make something more artful of life, grow and become more than what we are at present.
Admittedly, my view is skewed by my faith tradition, just as Watson's is skewed by his. Had he not closed his post the way he did I likely would not be writing this. Or maybe I wouldn't be writing this if he had simply spoken to his own experience in that last section instead of applying it everyone ("the Gospel gives me hope" versus "the Gospel gives mankind hope."), using the situation as an opportunity to preach. In doing so a wedge was inserted into the connection I felt with him through what he had written above that. Instead of release I felt tension in relation to his closing statements, mostly because of that connection with Watson being disrupted. Out of that tension I find myself writing this, not to discount or replace what he wrote but to set along side it, expressing how it is for me, in order to dissipate that which interferes with what connects us.
When we study ethical precepts related to Zen practice they are accompanied by commentaries from Bodhidharma. Each one of his statements begins with "The way things are is mysterious and hard to see", followed by him sharing how he sees things in light of each precept. The overall encouragement Bodhidharma offers is to look, and the encouragement is twofold. First, even though it is difficult to see how things really are, look anyway - don't give up, don't turn away. Second, even though Bodhidharma offers you his own view, keep looking. And looking. And looking. Let what he sees enter into the field of your looking, and allow the views of others to enter as well, and keep looking, continuously, freshly, with your very eyes. I felt a generous invitation to look along with Watson, and even to look through his own eyes, as I made my way through his post. But he offered a more solid seeing at the end, telling me how it is rather than inviting me to look for myself, in effect taking my eyes away from me. I'd much rather remain with the tension and struggle of the mysterious and difficult-to-understand what is, in its complex and painful fullness, than be offered any kind of placation.
I find a good companion to Bodhidharma's "The way things are is mysterious and hard to see" to be a phrase from the Zen ancestor Dizang, "Not knowing is most intimate." It's curious how we tend to think the more we know about something the better we actually know the thing itself. But that's not really the case, is it? Think about your loved ones and close friends and how much you know about them - their history, their preferences and tendencies, their general way of being in the world. How do all of those details and stories compare with actually being with them, experiencing and engaging in life together in those moments when you each forget who you are and there is just what is happening? Sure, you have a pool of information from which to draw conclusions about why things happen the way they do, and you can certainly have a great time reconnecting with an individual or experience through the stories that live on after-the-fact, but none of that compares to the actual of experience of being there in the unfolding of things themselves, ungraspable and unrepeatable. Even to try to speak of the intimacy of those moments betrays the intimacy itself.
Though I am quite far removed from the events of Ferguson, there is a deep intimacy I feel with it all, manifesting mostly as heartache, pain, and frustration. They arise when I read Darren Wilson's account of the events of August 9; they arise when I read Dorian Johnson's account of the events of August 9; they become more intense as these two accounts converge and diverge unsatisfactorily, providing more confusion than clarity. I will rest in that tension. I will rest in the tension of the conflicting narratives about who Michael Brown was, not choosing one over the others. I will rest in the tension of the conflicting narratives about who Darren Wilson is, keeping my eyes open to the varying views of and justifications for his motivations and actions. I will rest in the tension of explanations and stories and opinions, from the media and public figures and the multitudes offering their two cents (including me). I will resist the tempting comfort of any "why it happened" that is offered, whether it be sin or skin or pride or hate or protocol or mistake, in hope that my eyes will not be blinded to the fact that this happened, that this is happening; in hope that I may remain connected to it through heartache, pain and frustration; in hope that from this nexus of tension I may engage and contribute to the becoming of more than what we are.