This Restorative Justice Life

The Flawed "Savior" Mentality (The Last of Us Episode 8) [Restorative Justice Reflections]

March 06, 2023 David Ryan Castro-Harris
This Restorative Justice Life
The Flawed "Savior" Mentality (The Last of Us Episode 8) [Restorative Justice Reflections]
Show Notes Transcript

This week on Restorative Justice Reflections Kala Mendoza and David examine the restorative themes found in Episode 8 of HBO's post-apocalyptic drama "The Last of Us" 

Join David and Kala on Sunday March 19, 9am Pacific/12pm Eastern for a LIVE workshop on Freedom Dreaming a Thriving Community (even under apocalyptic circumstances)

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David: Well, welcome back to Restorative Justice Reflections, the show where we take time to analyze what's happening in the media, news pop culture, and ask restorative questions to help us make sense of it all. I'm David Castro Harris and I'm here with Kalaya'an Mendoza to take a deep dive into the themes of hbos, the last of us episode eight, when we are in need.

As always, the thoughts here are not a critique of the story or production choices of the creators, but what we hope to do is make connections between themes present here in this story and how we can co-create a world where people and communities have what they need to survive and thrive. If you wanna learn more about how to do this do restorative work, build these themes of mutual protection out in your world, links to connect to both Kala's work and my work are in the show notes or description.

And so you can get connected that way. lastly, spoiler alert. Everything that has happened in the H B O show, the last of us is on the table for the first part of our conversation, and at the very end we'll go into super spoiler section where we're talking about everything that we know about the last of us universe, but you will be warn before that.

So episode eight, we're one away from the end. Now, Kala, how did this episode land for you? 

Kala: I think in all the ways, like this is one of the Payless episodes I've seen in terms of like the very visceral, like, ugh, this is, this is a horrid world and this is a horrid group. Yeah. I'm still kind of reeling from the, just like the emotional gut punch of what we kind of experienced through Ellie's eyes throughout the episode.

How about you? 

David: Yeah. You know, knowing the lore of the game, knowing the beats of the story, like I don't think it landed as hard for me emotionally just because like I knew what was coming. You and I were talking like right before, like we were under no illusions that like David was a good guy, from the beginning.

And so like we didn't have faith or we didn't have expectations that this would turn out well. But even knowing that, I think like you know, part of this will talk about in like the super spoilers, but like this is one of the key moments of Ellie's life and the trajectory she goes on moving forward, thinking about, you know, this is a really traumatic event where, you know, as much as you and I are people who Want peaceful resolutions and things like this is just viable violence.

Like this is self-protection, self-defense. And it comes at, in an instance of great trauma, but like that trauma has a cost. But like, you know, there were lots of things that led up to that moment where she, you know, violently, violently killed David and then brutalized his body. We opened the story with David comforting his followers in a funeral service or some a, a memorial, right?

And we later learned that the person that they're mourning is the person that Joel, Joel killed. Who, but the person who also stabbed Joel. Right. And He's reading from the Bible. He's offering comfort to, to the to the man's daughter and maybe wife. I, I. , I think, I think that was the relationship that was portrayed there.

And you know, we see him offering comfort as, you know, the leader of a community to his family in this time of need. Knowing that, as you were saying, like these are pale circumstances, we're starving, we don't have a lot of food, it's winter. The hunt is low. I don't know how this came off for other people who were watching because like in the back of my mind, I already knew that like, David's not somebody who you want to associate with.

And like this community isn't something that we value. And I think, you know, the creators are trying to like, In this game, sorry, in this show show a more holistic picture of, you know, who people are and they are people beyond, like obstacles to overcome within the context of a video game. But this context didn't like bring out a lot of sympathy for at least David, the character for me, maybe for the people who were, you know, just trying to survive as he shared, like coming out of the Pittsburgh Qsy and, you know, migrating across, finding spaces that were safe and then getting rated and then picking up more people along the way until they came to, you know, this space in, I think it's called Silver Lake, but.

You know, the circumstances, the story that David told, like didn't really like, bring up a lot of sympathy for me. It was a lot about like, yeah, you're a person who just took advantage of people who, you know, were looking for any way out, right? You use the guys of the Bible and Christianity to get them to follow you.

But, you know, this is pretty cold, like a pretty unhealthy community. Like many of which we've seen within the context of the last of us universe. but I think it's another example of ways we might not want to be in community with each other in the time of the apocalypse. And of course now,

Kala: definitely. I mean, it's interesting to kind of like note the differences between the Silver Lake community versus the Jackson community. With Silver Lake, we see a one singular, singular leader in a very patriarchal, leadership. Mm-hmm. uh, Formation versus in Jackson, which is co-led by a council of communists basically.

And it's a interesting critique if we're also looking at Kansas City as well. It's the singular leader profile seems to always point to a very negative direction in which a community can survive. And I think for folks that have been doing movement work we always want to build up leaderful movements where everyone in the community sees both their skills, their contributions, and also their approaches to leadership being brought in.

So there's as many leaders as possible and not defined by one. Charismatic individual, which can go very, very awry as we see. 

David: Yeah. Something that I've thought a lot about within the context of amplify RJ a lot pretty early on in one of either, I don't remember if it was a workshop or a community gathering, but it was someone who had been in relationship with Amplify RJ for a while and they made a comment at the end as we were checking out, like, yeah, David, you're like our cult leader.

And I was like, why would you say that? Right. And I don't think, I think it was like an innocuous comment like, oh, like we are appreciate like the way that you've led and like projected this vision. But that comment like going on like two plus years ago, like has like always stuck in my head. . You know, as I was listening to the Prestige TV podcast by the Ringer Podcast Network, where van Lathan and Charles Holmes were giving their immediate reactions to this van Lathan was talking about how, you know, the way that he identified not being someone who hadn't played the games, the way that he identified that, like David was a bad guy wasn't by like the words that he was saying at the beginning when he was offering comfort to his community.

It was like about the way that they were responding to him, right? They were withdrawn. it didn't seem like they were a community where like, conversation, feedback, and like, like you were saying, like there was not agency, right? They were just like on their last rope, like giving their allegiance, putting all their hopes on this one person.

Right? And I'm not. Within the context of any Amplify RJ workshop or community space, like we're creating those spaces. That is definitely not my intention. I am somebody who is like putting out a vision and inviting people into, you know, participating in workshops and community around like this restorative justice way of being, like emphasizing interconnection, both in the ways that we build, strengthen, and repair relationships.

But like, it was a moment of like, Hey, let me make sure that as I'm building this thing it is a thing where people do have agency can take this knowledge and don't feel like they have to rely on me as the arbiter of learning. Right. Or of all that is all things restorative justice, right? I'm somebody who is.

A voice, right? Has some experience has some knowledge and wisdom that I believe is worth hearing. And, you know, there aren't a lot of other people who are talking about this way of being specifically, you know, and especially like effective using, effectively using these digital mediums that we're utilizing right now.

But it's not, it's not about David , right? And so, like, thinking about the ways to do that has looked like a couple different things. in some instances we've had other people leading workshops, other people leading community spaces.

It's looked like multiple of different things, but as you, in whatever context you're thinking about, right? Whether it's your workplace, your classroom your community space, like. How do you make yourself replaceable? Right? Because the reality is right, right Now, if something, God forbid tragic happens in my life that where I'm unable to do the work of amplify rj, right?

The company is gonna die. The Instagram is going to be like defunct. All the other things that we're doing, including this podcast, like won't continue. And so it's not just about like how do we, like, feel the best about doing this work together, but like, how do we like logistically make sure that this work carries on and continues?

If one person is incapacitated or unable to continue the work,

Kala: Yeah, that resonates a lot in the work that I do. I try my best to make sure that our work is as democratized and as accessible as possible, that no one is seen as a singular expert on safety, because we've all, especially folks from marginalized communities, we are all experts on our own personal and community safety.

I think being in a white, settler colonial state, we're socialized to see individualism as the, the, you know, the only way forward. Whereas if we look at indigenous lifeways, particularly around leadership, it's always shared leadership. It's never one singular person. One person may be identified as a spokesperson for the group for for many reasons, but the, the responsibility of leadership is shared across, Everyone in the community. And I think that's one of the things around the decolonization work that we do either explicitly or subtly is reinforcing that we keep us safe. It is not one person that does that. It is not one body that does that. Because if we are reliant on that one charismatic, Figure, it doesn't reinforce our ability to keep our community safe.

It doesn't, it only reinforces what we've been told and what we've been indoctinated to, 

David: yeah. You know, when you think about, you know, it's not on one person, one body, even within the context of organizations who like espouse these values so much. And I think, right, like you were saying, because we live in like a white setter la colonialist capitalist society, like it is easy to like just give a job to a person and say like, all right, you got this and we're gonna be.

you're gonna be the go-to person for that. Whether it is you know, some, the person who is in charge of first aid or whether it's the person who's like in charge of, like facilitating restorative justice processes, right? Like if that person goes missing or like is not able to function for some reason.

Like, what is your community going to do? And so, you know, how do we build the capacity of our communities to be able to move in this way, right? Whether it is like through lenses of restorative justice when we're addressing conflict or, you know, health and safety in crisis, right? There are lots of different ways that we can do that.

You know, like we haven't advanced the plot of this episode very far. Right? And I think, you know, we'll talk about some of those machinations, but, you know, just a reminder that as we're watching media consuming media Part of what we're doing is just for pure entertainment, right? It's fun to get caught up in these worlds.

and I think escapism is really important, but there is so much that we can learn when we're applying these things to our own lives. And of course, right? Not every piece of media is something that we want to model or like, you know, put through this restorative justice lens. But especially when we're thinking about the capacity that it takes to build communities the, the ways that we want to build communities, I do think it's really important.

And we've seen a lot of different ways that this has been modeled within the, last of us series. And, you know, it has been one of the things that Colin and I have been thinking about over and over. And so we want to make sure that we are inviting you listener to a workshop where we are freedom dreaming about how we keep us safe.

Right But the following Sunday, March 19. In order to replace the last of us as a viewing experience, we're convening a workshop at 9:00 AM Pacific, 12:00 PM Eastern, where we will collaboratively figure out how we want to build thriving communities, right through this imagination is how we start to manifest these things in this capitalistic white, settler, colonial hetero, patriarchal, ableist world.

So it's an opportunity to connect with us, connect with others who have been listening, others who haven't even been listening to this podcast, but are really interested in building this world where we can promote community thriving, not just surviving. So again, tickets and all the info to get access and hang out with us on the 19th are on the show notes.

But let's, let's keep the plot going, David and James who is played by the person who voices Joel in the game. Troy Baker go out hunting to find more food for their community, and they encounter a deer, which Ellie has shot. And she's out looking for food because her and Joel have run out of food.

She's doing her best to keep Joel warm and alive. And in this instance, right, Ellie gets the drop on them and asks them to not ask demands that they drop their weapons, step back this deer as hers. But David talks down, talks her down and says like, Hey, we can trade you. And Ellie immediately asks for medicine, right?

Knowing that. her stitch job on Joel's wound was now getting infected and, you know, this is a moment of being able to get what you need in exchange for some of the food. What was going through your mind because in the game, like this is played as like, oh, this might be someone who's like actually able to help, but like, what was knowing what you knew, knew how did this play out for you?

Kala: Yeah, very. I mean, I wanted to try to experience it as a non-game player, but that's impossible cuz I was like, I wonder folks are creeped out by this. There are, you know, are people's flags going up? Is are folks like, you know, going into next level situational awareness because like in the game you're playing as Ellie, right?

And this is like from Ellie's point of view the whole time I was like, oh, don't these. Shady, you know guys that came outta nowhere, like, don't trust someone that asks you, you know, can I have 10 seconds of your time? I think that was really that was a really great way of the writers to start to show how, David is skilled in being able to get into people's heads.

Because once Ellie gave them that, you know, gave him that, those 10 seconds, it opened the floor to have that conversation. So it, yeah, it was it was interesting. And right before that, did you hear clickers? 

David: Well, the caption said, clicks. , but I think like that was, you know, clicks of something happening in the world, right?

Because in the game they do experience a attack of infected, but I think it was just like, oh, tree snaps as people were walking. I, I don't know. Yeah. I, you know, a critique that I've heard about the series is like, there's been so little encounters with the infected as compared to gameplay and, you know, might've been for like CGI budget, reasons but I mean, it's also given us a lot more time to spend with characters in developing backstories.

And so like, that's a trade off that you make. But, you know, I think what was interesting to me to think about is like, how would I have navigated that situation, right?

David pretty quickly puts together who Ellie is and who she's protecting, knowing that there aren't very many people around, there are no settlements around. And so like Ellie's lie about, like we're with a lot of women families, children too. Ellie is a lie.

And so like, oh, this must be the person who killed our, our community member. And you know, again, like the vengeance cycles of violence is something that we revisited a lot in the episode with Kathleen Henry and Sam. But here again, it's a driving force. The community members are really upset that, you know, they didn't just kill Ellie in the moment.

And, you know, David has the foresight, the wisdom to know like that doesn't make sense because we're able to at least, you know, get this and get this food in this moment. But also like tie up the loose end of bringing Joel to justice. And then Ellie's walking into that situation, unaware of any of that. So, you know, what is the wise way to play that from Ellie's perspective? Because, you know, at some point, like you do have to trust people and at other points, right.

You shouldn't. Right. And though, so, so in this case, like should she have just put two bullets in those people immediately, right. No. Then Joel wouldn't have gotten his medicine. in those moments, like do you trust or do you not, or how do you play the in between? How would you have gone about that?

Kala: I would like to say that I would try to get as much information out of them as possible without giving too much of my own. . But I think in those moments when you don't know who to trust, and if they're coming off as nice people, you know, it's, it's difficult, especially in a survival situation to be able to identify as this a likely threat.

Because if you see every single person as a threat, that only puts you into a state of hypervigilance, right? Where you can't build community. I think Ellie did what they could in the moment. I would like to say, I would like to think that I would do something similar to, you know, be able to achieve what my aim was, which was to find out what resources they had and to see what trait could happen as quickly as possible, right?

David: Because like in an ideal world, like that was an altruistic, Hmm. I wouldn't say altruistic, but at least like non-threatening interaction, right? You get your medicine, we get this food, and then we move on. Hoping for the best and you know, the communities go on about their, their lives. But David and his community didn't want to take it there.

Right. What ends up happening is David reveals that they know who they are, his partner James makes threats, but David talks him down. They return to their community with the deer. Ellie returns to Joel to administer the medicine, but the following day David comes back with a hunting party to, you know, take them out. Ellie realizes that they're coming for them and so she rides off on the horse to distract people, but the horse is shot. Ellie's captured, then there are a handful of people who are left to try to hunt down Joel. And so we have Ellie captured, locked up in a cage.

We have Joel being left with a knife to defend himself against people who are trying to, you know, get their vengeance. Joel gets the drop on the people who are after him.

He stabs one in the neck and then incapacitates two others and interrogates them as to Ellie's survival. And about her whereabouts. And, you know, they point to Silver Lake and Joel brutally kills all three of them, right? Ellie is putting this cage right. David tries to talk her into, Hey, join us.

Joel's gonna die. You can be by my side. As we are building this community up, I see a violent heart, a kindred violent heart, and I want, I want you with me. If you're only willing to trust me, Ellie sees through that right? Breaks his finger in an escape attempt. But he ends up, him and James try to pin her down to the table to, to kill her.

She bites him. It says like, Hey, you're infected too. It's enough of a distraction for her to kill James and escape. David chases her down. There's a little bit of a cat and mouse scheme that goes down. He pins Ellie down, but she ends up brutally killing him as well.

Right. she stumbles out of the building but is caught by Joel. And in this heightened state of terror trauma after having just brutally killed two people. Ellie is of course in fight flight mode is ready to fight Joel too, but he's able to deescalate, calm her down and they're able to go off on the rest of their journey.

Now I know I just like jammed a bunch of plot in, This isn't a podcast where we're reacting beat by beat to things that are happening in the story. We really do want to focus on the themes that are coming out of what is happening. And as I was experiencing this as a viewer and then as I was watching the reaction that people were having on Twitter and other places on social media, I saw a lot of cheering. Celebration of the brutality that Joel and Ellie demonstrated in order to meet their goals.

Right. Ellie? Survival in a moment, Joel getting to Ellie so he can go save her. Right. And I was struck by like, wow, why do we as a culture celebrate violence in this way? How did that land for you? And like, what do you think?

Kala: Yes, very similarly, part of me was like, I hope folks are able to see deeper at the cost of violence even when it's enacted in a justifiable way in, you know, self-defense, self-protection. But we can see what the cost of, Basically like, destroying, David's head did to Ellie in that moment. versus where, Ellie had to, shank James in the neck in self-defense was like in and out of there. the way this landed for me was how we are constantly exposed to violence in this country, right?

Both through media and in our everyday lives. And I think the beautiful thing that, amplify RJ does is it asks us what does justice actually look like? Is justice, vengeance is justice? Being able to meet the needs of everyone. And to support those who have been directly affected by violence.

I think this is something that comes up a lot in the work that non non-violent peace force does around anti-Asian violence. There's so many folks in our community that wants to, you know enact that vengeful full justice. But is that truly justice if it doesn't stop the cycle of violence?

I, yeah. Really curious to think what, what you're thinking. 

David: Yeah. You know, I've been having conversations with students middle through high school students, middle school through high school students over the last couple weeks about these ideas of restorative justice and the streak of like people need to be punished is very clear, right?

We, we all agree that harm needs to be stopped, right? And in this case, I think we're talking broadly about like, Two or three different people who are causing harm and violence, right? The things that Joel is doing, the things that Ellie is doing, and the things that David and his community are doing, right?

Ellie is acting completely out of self-defense and self-preservation, right? Those are the things that are arguably justifiable, understandable, and come at a cost. I think if we make the connection between, you know, the way that Ellie tries to save herself and the way that women who try to save themselves or protect themselves or protect their children you can make easy connections between the way that like women are overly criminalized for this, right?

And I think about the work of collectives, like the survive and punished. movement, right? Thinking about how women and people who are victims of domestic abuse sexual assault right, have been criminalized. Thinking about the ways that we can fix that, like that is a conversation in and of itself.

And, you know, if people want to learn more about that, I'll have Paolo <3 link, you know, resources to survive and punish stuff in the show notes, in the description. so I mean, I, I do think there's that part where we do need a more nuanced discussion of what that kind of violence looks like, right?

Joel, on the other hand, right? Initially, The first shank in the neck is about survival, right? His own self-preservation. That is something like, these people were trying to kill me and so I'm gonna do whatever it takes to save my life, right? He gets the drop onto other people, doesn't kill them, right? But then tortures one to get information where Ellie is and then ends up killing both.

And we can make a understandable argument that like, if these two people were left alive, they would've come back and tracked him down and, I think that's an understandable thought. And these people didn't do anything to cause you harm, right?

they were no longer a threat to you. So like, what did ending their lives do? Right? We know that Joel is somebody who has experienced violence and has enacted violence like this in the past, right? And so he might internally be a little more numb to these kinds of acts, but, you know, what does that have to say about the way that he's going to move forward in the world?

And I won't say anymore until super spoiler corner . and then we think about David and the violence that he was enacting. Right. Both as an individual interpersonally with, with Ellie. Right. But I think we benefit from a more zoomed out approach to like the impacts of his leadership in that space.

Right. And I know this is something that we kind of spoke to at the beginning, but like the way that he paternalistic Exerted power over everyone in that situation, right? We haven't even touched on the cannibalism, right? Making decisions for people without having, you know, their consent lying to people about, Hey, this is venison jk, this is humans, this is your dad that was stabbed and we saved all the parts of him that we're still edible to, you know, continue on eating this.

And you, you know, he felt bad about that, right? But like, that's not a decision that you had to carry out on your own when you're talking about justice and vengeance, right? Who are you to be the arbitrator of who deserves what, what decisions get made on behalf of, you know, impacted people, right? This young woman who lost her father at the hands of Joel versus like this whole community's safety versus what you think is the best where you're trying to get, you know, like, how would you categorize like what he was trying to get out of Ellie?

Kala: I, I mean, he was a predator, right? Like he, that's I think that he was in his very twisted way that he saw the world. He wanted Ellie as a partner and very similar to a lot of cult leaders. There's, there's that, 

David: like captive, sidekick wife.

Right. Something along those lines. And you know, like what are the ways that he could have achieved those goals differently, right? Yeah. Not of like control of the group, but you know, Thriving being fruitful and multiplying, right? It he didn't have to use those methods, right?

There are other ways to build community, build thriving community, which again, plugging the workshop, links in the links in the show notes. we don't get to change character choices and, you know, we don't get to change the people who we interact with in the world. But when you think about the violence, the immense amount of violence that we saw in this episode, what does this have to teach us

or what did you come away thinking about,

Kala: that violence always comes at a cost, right? It comes at a cost, whether it's you are the person that has to enact it or if you're the community that is exposed to it, right? I mean, like the the not so subtle violence of, David feeding his community, human beings, that is a theft of their agency and consent versus the, the violence that you have to enact in a self, you know, in self-defense.

to me the, the central thing is like, violence always costs you something, 

David: right? Like in this case, if we're just thinking about David's community, like his actions of trying to make Ellie his captive wife partner, right? cost them their leader, right? It cost them, four men who had been doing work, right?

And so like what is the future outlook for this community of people who weren't doing so well, surviving on their own right? How is this achieving his goals of being fruitful and multiplying even with people who he didn't have respect for, right? The game doesn't tell us anything about what happens to David's community after this. There's much more of a fire . The fire wasn't limited to just one building in, in the game, but we don't know what happens to this community after. But like, I'm really curious, right?

Because it's not like these people are suddenly just like off of the map. There is fallout from this. And so like when you're saying like, violence has a cost, right? It's not just a personal cost to David and his life, right? But you know, think about all the people who were relying on him and others who might have died to continue to survive.

They're probably doomed too, too.

it's hard to talk about some of the impacts that, this has and will have on Joel and Ellie without going into Spoiler Corner. But I did want to revisit, you know, the ending scene where Joel is not offering Ellie physical Safety and protection, but does offer comfort emotionally at the end.

I know you had I know this was another one of those moments that people were really reacting to, like, it's okay baby girl. Joel, saying that perhaps for the first time since Sarah's death 20 years ago how did that hit you? 

Kala: Yeah, I, I mean, to me it kind of like spoke to what we were talking about last week on the podcast.

There are many ways that we can show up for others in crisis. We don't have to always come in from a place of like being a physical protector, but by being able to support someone's psychosocial safety, it goes so far in ensuring that the trauma doesn't further deepen Its, you know, its tendrils into someone's like spirit and body.

I think it was in that moment, if you saw like Ellie fell into Joel's arms that just once again reinforced and reminded me even in this extremely harsh world, physical safety is not enough. We also need psychosocial safety within the community. 

David: Yeah. I'm curious though, you know, what Joel offered in this moment, I would categorize as like, soothing.

Like, I don't think Joel and Ellie are going to like, move on and like, talk extensively and unpack like what happened here. And so like, you know, like that. Soothing in a moment is different from healing, right? And being able to like build an emotional safe space, quote unquote safe space for like future interactions.

Is that soothing enough for any given moment?

Kala: In my experience, it has been where if we're in a crisis moment, you know, whether we're, ducking bullets from state security or on the front lines, when we are exposed to trauma, when the folks that I have been on the ground with we will find a moment to co-regulate together.

Mm-hmm. , whether that's going down the holistic check-in of like what are you feeling physically psychosocially energetically, and what support you need right now. There are ways to support and reinforce someone's agency. it's not healing all at once. Right? It's being able to put a you know, a bandaid, a trauma pad onto an emotional wound to be able to support someone to get to a place where they can heal.

David: Yeah, what this is bringing up for me is, you know, you don't have to do everything. You can do something. And I think sometimes people get stuck in like, well, if I do this one thing I'm building a relationship and then I'm gonna be on the hook for like, and responsible for all the needs that this person might have.

And I think it's like really important to talk about boundaries. I'm thinking about the trauma bonding that I've experienced in various circumstances and has. Like without having like explicit conversations about, you know, what each other's needs are moving forward. Like, there have been unmet expectations from people who I've been in struggle with, right?

There have been other times where we've, I've gone through hard things with people and we're pretty easily able to say like, Hey, grateful for this and this time, and there are no more expectations beyond like what we experienced right now, and we can move forward together in a good way. and then there are other instances where, you know, we've gone through something and, you know, without conversation we've all moved on, moved forward without any particular drama coming up.

But having those conversations explicitly is something that might be helpful to some people in a lot of different circumstances where we are providing emotional safety for folks, right? When we hold grief spaces we're not saying that, Hey, this is a place where you're gonna heal all the things.

This is not something, this is not a replacement for therapy, right? The people here are not licensed practitioners. this is a container for holding our reactions, our emotions, our thoughts around a certain thing. And if you want to continue to create connections outside of this space, you're more than welcome to.

But this is not therapy, right? This is also not the space to air, like all the things that have ever happened to you at once, right? And so when I think about this in like terms of restorative justice, where we're talking about meeting people's needs, sometimes we have to be really explicit about the needs that we're trying to meet in, in a given moment.

So there isn't harm caused by unmet expectations.

Kala: I appreciate you you surfacing that because I think, yeah, a lot of folks may think like, I don't want to be, committed to more than I can possibly give mm-hmm. . But I think it once again goes back to that self-reflection of what your capacity is, right?

And being very transparent with what you're offering can be. . And I think the more that we can do this as individuals, the more that we can support our communities in, all of the, holistic safety needs. Because like, not any individual should shoulder the responsibility of anyone else, right?

It goes back to that individualistic, settler, colonial mindset. Whereas if we shift away and actually share, these responsibilities with the community, then we can really see community-led approaches to safety. Then we can see what is actually needed. Did we have that capacity? As a community, but we don't as, as an individual, right?

Yeah. Like no one person should should carry all that. 

 earlier I mentioned a checklist on a holistic check. , and this is a tool that we use on the ground whether it is to support community members who have been aggressed by by violence, by the state or non-state actors.

It's basically four questions. What are you feeling physically right now? What are you feeling psychosocially right now? What are you feeling energetically right now? And what do you need support? What support do you need, in this moment? So it's just like reinforcing someone's agency. It's reminding them that they can identify what that is, but also to be able to do a self-assessment on what they are experiencing.

this is a way to communicate out in a crisis moment. 

David: Yeah, definitely like that self-inventory is so important in moments of crisis, and I think in general, day-to-day check-ins and conversations that you're having with others that you're in community with, it can be so helpful. That was really practical and helpful, but I know that you have another practical prepper corner piece that you want to share with us, so lay it on us.

Kala: Yeah. So earlier I talked about a, you know, putting together gear for a go bag. One thing I wanna invite folks to do is to actually not focus on the gear, but so much as a skills that you can build, whether that is, you know learning basic first aid joining a local mutual aid organization that's offering first aid or stop the Bleed trainings, you know, knowing what is what are the edible plants in.

the area that you're living, living in. What are the non edible plants? How do you filter water when you have some very basic tools, skills don't weigh anything, but they can be the the difference between, living and dying in a emergency situation. Yeah. So 

David: like knowing where to administer antibiotics.

Yep. And neither of us have the medical expertise to give a good answer to that. So. That is a charge for us to go and go and learn. There are so many things that we're gonna talk about in Prepper Corner, so if you've gotta sign off, now is your opportunity. Again, reminder that on the 19th of March 9:00 AM Pacific, 12 noon Eastern, we're having a community workshop.

We keep a safe freedom dreaming what thriving communities look like. Links to that in the show notes. We'll be back with the recap next week of the finale of the last of us, but now we're gonna do super spoilers, thinking about what's gonna happen or what we think is gonna happen next week, things that we know that are gonna happen within the context of the last of us universe.

So if you don't want to hear those things, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. If you're still listening spoilers are coming. So. I think this episode more than any that we've experienced so far sets Ellie on the trajectory that she will be on for the rest of this story, right? Resorting to brutal, brutal violence in the face of violence, right?

All the violence that she has administered has been out of pure self-preservation, but her experience with David unlocks something in her work. Long after he is dead, long after he's a threat, there is a release of all this pent up anger, rage, resentment as she continues to slash him in the head with a machete.

And we see this violence across the last of us two, in the ways that she goes out exacting revenge on enemies that she's experiencing or people who she deems to have caused her harm. We also see this in the P T S D that she experiences from not only this, but other traumatic things that I guess we don't necessarily have to spoil right now.

Moving forward, Yeah. What came up for you as you were thinking about all of this as we experienced Ellie go down this path? 

Kala: I think the thing that came up for me is like, I hope we have more therapists and social workers in the Apocalypse, , I mean like the, the, the violence that we enact upon ourselves and others is you know, with Ellie's further deepened by the trauma that she continues to experience without having any way or any container to processing that trauma.

Right. Aside from enacting. Connecting vengeance. Yeah. 

David: Yeah, I mean, I do think social workers and therapists are great. I don't think that's necessarily going to be available to them in the apocalypse, but you know, as we know, Ellie and Joel don't process these things externally or like talk about these things at all.

They're really repressed. And you know, before there was licensed family and marriage therapists, before there were licensed clinical social workers, right? There were people in community, we had ceremonies to talk through and process some of these things. And I know we get into dangerous territory when we're talking about people reclaiming sweat lodges or circle practices.

Using them as modalities for healing especially when they're divorced from their indigenous roots. But those practices in the ways that I've been taught can be really, really helpful. over the course of Amplify, rj, I've shied away so much from calling the things that we do online circles for this reason, right? Circles are a ceremony or a sacred ceremony where, you know, certain things happen. And when. on digital platforms, not sitting next to people passing a talking piece. Like that's not a circle.

You can hold vulnerable space for sharing and use so many of the principles of circles. And I think we do that really well. We've taught that just a handful of times. but as much as I wanna highlight, there are other ways of processing that don't necessarily look like therapy. Like we've gotta be really careful about the models that we use, the modalities that we use and the language that we use to describe and hold these processes.

Kala: Definitely, I completely, yeah, wholeheartedly agree. Like the last thing we wanna do is continue to colonize indigenous life waste practices. And I think there's ways that we can look on our communities. To be able to surface what, what are the psychosocial support structures that we can have in place to keep ourselves safe.

And I think that's what a lot of folks are really trying to do. And it's, it is important to be able to know where, you know, the practices that that you're utilizing actually comes from. 

David: Yeah. I think about the episode last week where Ellie and Riley happened across a person who, you know, died by suicide, right.

Taking pills and drinking Right people. Often use illicit substances in order to deal with like that pain and that processing. And, you know, we don't know the circumstances of that specific person. Right. But, you know, I imagine substance abuse in order to try to cope with the trauma that people are experiencing was really rampant.

And as much as I, like I do, part of me wants to say like, but what if there were like healing circles that were happening all the time? What if there were these ceremonies, these practices, right? This might be part of what we think about when we are building our thriving communities in this workshop. , you know, throwing the 19th plug for that within the context of our podcast today.

As much as I do want to advocate for people participating in therapy, I've participated in therapy. I don't want to go into all the nuances of navigating Kaiser healthcare that it takes to get there. Right? There are other ways that we could get to emotional safety, psychosocial safety that don't have to rely on.

someone who went to graduate school and got a master's degree,

We've revisited the, this idea of paternalism over and over, over the past couple episodes. And, David, like so many of the other people who we've critiqued over the last couple weeks, displays so much of this decision making on behalf of other people because he knows best. We both know that Joel is about to do the same thing to Ellie. When is our boy gonna learn ? I mean, we know he is not, but like, what do we hope that he would learn?

Kala: Oh gosh. I mean, that he needs to heal, that he needs to find, you know, space and time to heal. And I I think that's what he was trying to do in Jackson, right? 

David: yeah. I, I mean I think like even in this episode, right, you saw that Ellie is like a really capable person who, like Joel did nothing to save Ellie in this, in these circumstances.

Like nothing to physically save. Ellie, Ellie protected him, right? Like after this, like, how do you not respect the autonomy of this person who learned from you was her whole ass self before that but learned from you, protected, you saved herself, right? And you're still not gonna give her choices and opportunity at the end of this journey.

I don't know what else needs to to happen for this person. And I think like, this is a challenge for me, you listeners, especially as a parent, I'm thinking about like especially as a male parent, right? Thinking about all the ways that paternalism is a default mode for how some of us navigate the world or the ways that we're socialized to think are good leadership models are good parenting models. 

Kala: Yeah. And I think that in this time of instant access to information it's upon us to be able to seek out spaces where we can.

what different leadership styles can look like that aren't rooted in patriarchy, that aren't rooted in domination or subjugation. Because I think that's what, you know, the brought to these shores in many shores, right? It's like power over, not power with, 

David: and again, not to just explicitly plug the workshop, but it is a really helpful exercise to think about all the ways that not only we can allocate resources, build structures, but also like how we make decisions together. How we move through moments of tension and conflict when different people value different things.

Right? it's easy to make decisions together where we all generally agree about which had happened, but when we have moments of disagreement or conflict, like how do we make those choices? Whose opinions do we value? Whose voices do we give weight? Is it one person, one vote? Majority rules? We know that that can be flawed, right?

Because of the ways that marginalized and minority populations have been harmed over and over across the history of our country. And so figuring out the really nuanced ways to think about meeting the needs of people in our community in a way that is not patriarchal, paternalistic relying on power hoarding is an ongoing conversation.

That's a lot easier to do within the context of, you know, small groups. Really hard to do on a societal level. But that is the, that is the struggle that we're constantly engaged in thinking about as we think about building a world where everyone can thrive. 

Kala: Definitely. as you speak to that, I'm thinking like, yes, this is definitely possible in small groups and small groups.

Build a society. So I think the, the more folks that can be brought in, invited and really supported in building up these lit leaderful groups the better we will be as a collective. 

David: Yeah. And you know, the exercise of doing this doesn't have to start with thinking about the most catastrophic or egregious circumstances. Thinking about shared ways to make decisions on a day-to-day basis can be a good place to start. So in addition to taking care and staying safe, Let that be a challenge for you to think about different ways that you can share power and leadership over the next week until we all talk again after the finale of the last of us next week.

Of course, in this feed on Thursday, there will be another conversation with somebody living this restorative justice life. Any parting words? Kala, 

Kala: nothing. Just please be safe 

David: out there, folks. All right, y'all take care.