What Is Respect

by Jay Goodman

It’s always amaze me to see how certain groups at. Everyone talks about respect in prison. I mean there’s not a day that goes by that you won’t hear someone use this word. It’s used in almost every conversation, whether they’re talking about another guy, or a guard, or a friend. People in prison love this word, sometimes it’s almost like they’re infatuated with it.

But I have wondered many times if the people who love this word so much can give me the real definition of what it means? Why there is a lot more respect in federal prison than in Texas, I still can’t help but laugh at some of the people that use this word in their daily conversation. There are two men in my cell block that have life confused on what respect truly means. It’s as though they heard someone use the word in a conversation one day, and thought to themselves wow, that’s really cool word. Maybe they also believe the word made them look grown-up, like they were different from other people around them. But watching them since I arrived here, I cannot help but laugh at the complete ignorance of their understanding of what respect means. In my dictionary they gave the definition of respect as, to consider deserving of high regard. Of course, there is more to the meaning than just this one definition, but this one really sums it up for what I am talking about in here. Because you have peoples respect in life, whether you’re in here, or in the free world, I’m sure that a person would be looked up to and admired for how he conducts himself. Respect should be used in life as a tool to help others. To lift another human being up, to teach others to grow and hopefully understand the true importance of not only receiving respect from others, but giving respect to everyone you meet throughout your life.

Just because you are in a prison doesn’t mean you should think of respect in a different matter, or differently than someone in the free world. Respect is a part of life. Respect is a part of who you are as a man or woman. Respect is a reflection of who you are. I can sit in a cell block and watch others around me for a week or two and not even know who they are. Not talk to them, or know anything about why they are in prison. But after a short period of time, I can usually know if they are good people. Not from anything they say or do, but by the respect they show others in the cell block. Because real respect will make a man stick out from all the others. It’s as though they have a light that shines on them. While all the others who talk about the word respect, will stick out as fakes. There is no in between with respect, either you have it or you don’t. Some people in prison believe that respect can be taken. These people are confused with fear. That has nothing to do with the word respect. People who fear another person will never have true respect for them, in fact, more than likely, they will be disliked. I have wondered how the people in prison can be so confused with this word. Because as history hasn’t taught us anything, it’s proven that everyone who has risen to the top with force or intimidation has fallen in the end. Yes, they have had their moment in history. But in the end the ending was always bad. But for some people, it’s almost like they can’t see the difference. They look around me at some of the men and it’s like they were raised on another planet. They have no understanding of life or what it means to have respect, or to be respected. Most of them aimlessly walk around each day with nothing on their minds. You will hear them say, I’m bored, or there’s nothing to do. These men are lost in a fantasy of who they truly are. I know without a doubt that times change. I look back on my own life and I can see the difference between the 60’s, and the 70’s when I was a young teenager. I heard my grandfather and my dad, tell me how things were different in their day. I understand that time goes on, it never stops for no one. And even though there was a big gap between my grandfather, dad, and me, I realized today that I inherited a lot of their traits and understandings as far as life is concerned. Even though I am sitting in prison I have a good understanding on life, and I understand the difference between having and giving respect.

Having respect for everyone around me, is one of the most important aspects of life. To understand real respect allows a man to grow and mature into a better human being. A lot of people in prison have the idea this is prison like you are not held to the standard of being a human. We should look at our time in here as an opportunity to grow in all areas of life. We have lost our freedom which is one of the most important things we have. We can’t see our family or friends; we really have lost everything. All we have left is our word and respect. What else do we have in here? Everyone I come in contact with in here I always give that person respect. I respect him as a human being, as a man. I always try to make my fellow prisoners smile and laugh. I like for everyone to see that after 16 ½ years I have it turned into a hateful man, because I respect myself enough not to let that happen. Yes, respect for oneself is another thing that prisoners lack. If we don’t respect ourselves, how can we have respect for others? Because if we respect ourselves as men, it’s only natural that we will have the same respect for others.

Another important thing, people in here confused dislike for a reason to not have respect. It could be that a person is from another state, or a different city, or another gang, or a different race. Whatever the reason may be, dislike has nothing to do with respect. There has been plenty of people I’ve met throughout my life that I haven’t cared for. But I always showed them respect, I treated them know differently than if I was speaking to a friend. Once we can conquer our inner self, and not be controlled by our thoughts or emotions, we can understand the importance of respecting all people. Even for the people who want to be gangsters. If you were to study some of the most successful gangsters throughout history, you would quickly see the big difference between the one who made it to the top.

Let’s take a look at John Gotti, who rose to the top of the biggest mafia family in New York City. Why he made his way to the top of the Gambino crime family, he did it through fear, intimidation, and murder. And because of that he wasn’t able to keep control very long. In fact, he not only got busted in just a few years, but his own right-hand man would turn on him. John like to be known as a tough guy, who is quick temper had cost dozens of people their lives. Now if we go back in time and look at the man who started the family, Carlo Gambino, he was a little man who was soft-spoken. To look at Carlo, one would not see the traits of a mafia Don. But he was the longest mafia boss of any crime family in New York. Wherever Carla went everyone liked him. He wasn’t known for his truthfulness; he was known for the respect he gave everyone around him. Not just other criminals in his crime family, but all the people from his neighborhood had respect for him. Even the police in New York, and the feds had respect for Carlo Gambino. No matter what your goal may be in this world, you must learn the true meaning of respect. For those who learn this, you will see that every door of opportunity will be open to you.

The Attorneys
  • Francisco Hernandez
  • Daniel Hernandez
  • Phillip Hall
  • Rocio Martinez