For some time now I have been thinking about what it means to be civil. I have discussed this with many of the guys that I know and no matter who I discuss this with I always find some inconsistencies in the responses.
Can you imagine living some place where there is a subculture that has very little resemblance of the greater-society? In terms of right and wrong, do’s and don’ts, and good and bad. The subculture of prison will not allow one to be civil. The be civil, in terms of what it means in the greater-society, is to me an outcast, or rejected amongst the vast majority of the population.
What is even sadder is that without understand what it means to be civil, or better yet to know how to act and think civil, is like bearing the mark of the beast. Because, the prisoner, inmate, convict mentality is so deeply embedded within this person that they lose sense of what it means to be civil, in the greater-society.
As of late I have been feeling my stripes, the ones that I have earned from doing so much time. There are not a lot of guys that can say that they have 20 plus years under their belt. That in itself grants me a lot of leeway to be me and do me amongst the other guys. So, I have been taking certain liberties, that I would not have dared taken as a younger guy in prison. Such liberties as greeting people in the morning with “good morning” or being courteous enough to let some one go before me through a door. Saying “thank you” when someone does something for me.
As I do this I often track the times that others offer the same courtesies to others. It is as if one is going to be labeled soft and weak if he says “thank you” to someone else. To smile is like being told you have an incurable disease. It is sad to see that many want life on the outside but do not know how to conduct themselves in a civil manner.
When a fight breaks out guys run and search out the fight to watch, what can be at times the death of someone, and ogle. When someone is about to be taken advantage of it is not common for those around to turn and look the other way. Or to laugh and ridicule at someone else’s misfortune. You will find these attitudes among throughout any prison in the world.
What I have come to know is that this attitude and behavior is often a cover up for the lack of substance in someone’s life. The danger is that after years of acting like this it becomes part of ones psyche. To act out and be heartless becomes normal. It becomes part of ones way of life.
Civility is what is needed to stay out of prison. To be able to adapt to the rules, regulations and right of the greater-society. Civility is not something that is read in a book. Rather it is something that is applied in ones daily life. It is what opens the door of opportunities and understanding. It is something that has to be practiced. Often in here it is not practiced.
Here the bad are deem as good. The good are deemed as rejects. The man with the most time is often lauded as the most respected guy in the joint. More time usually mean more crimes, of heinous sorts, were committed. This is often overlooked. That, in most cases, for a guy to get 100 years may mean that who knows what was committed to get that type of time.
I remember when I would tell guys that I had 20 years to do it was automatically assumed that I had killed someone to get it. The response is never about the victim or the family of the victim but more along the lines of, “man you must have been a tough guy out there.” Or the one that I hate the most, “better him than you.” Most people out in the free world would automatically question the choice of taking someone’s life. Most will make you feel bad about doing so, and would want to hold you accountable for these acts. Yet in here guys like this are often the most respected. The bad people have been exalted and made to be good. Do not get me wrong there are some good guys in here. I like to think of myself as one of those guys.
I often wonder how long can a person survive in the greater-society with a prison mentality. Not long. I tell guys all the time that the way they think about life, others and the world is not going to fly out there. The codes by which they live by will never be accepted out in the free world. That no one wants to be around people that are rude and disrespectful. Someone who is always ridiculing and criticizing others. And, definitely they do not want to be around people who only topic of conversation surrounds the drugs they have used or sold.
So, what does this mean? It means that as they find themselves rejected by the public-at-large they have to find some place to fit in and be accepted. That means seeking out the sub society of criminality. It is here that those sub cultural ideas are given any attention. It is here that they find acceptance and form alliances. It is here where the plot to commit more crime is either formulated or play out. More crime means more victims. The cycle continues.
Civility is something that is not stressed enough in here. It is hard to stress it when those powers to be, the ones that hold the authority, are not civil towards others. In order to train a monkey you have to think like one. In order to catch a criminal you have to think like one. In order to guard an inmate you must think like one. At times you must at as one. So everyone walks around here trying to prove they are the toughest. That is the attitude from the top to the bottom. The staff act as gang member because they have to oversee so many gang members. So they use intimidation to exert authority. They have to yell to get a point across. The same way that they act is the same way that inmates act with one another.
If people would be just a little more civil in their dealings the society may become a little safer. Just something to think about.