"Respect, Respect, Respect."

These guys went about getting respect the hard way. Trust me. Their definition of honour was also head-scratching.

"Respect, Respect, Respect."
Do You Love Italians? I know I do!!! Greasy hair, fitted suits, a take-no-prisoners streak with them, superstitious and above all, intelligent. Fiery humans, Italians. They exude passion and literally wear their hearts on their sleeves. "We live with honor, and die with honor. We don't leak the secrets of our own. It's not about the money, it's about respect. About domination. About territory. And above all, honour." My friends, the infamous Sicilian Mafia. The men who controlled millions of dollars and chose to live in stone-walled villages in Castellamare del Golfo and Palermo and plant peaches and oranges. The men who killed one day and sought penance the next day. The men who took their made their bones by wiping out families. The men who sought power and led their families to the very heights of it. Contrary to what you know and might have heard, the Mafia weren't a bloodthirsty bunch of killers. They didn't kill for the fun of it. They didn't steal for the thrill of it. And they most certainly weren't thieving couples, waltzing around towns brandishing guns in stick-ups, in a Bonny and Clyde-esque manner. The Mafia was believed to have originated in Sicily, Italy, where men fought to defend their cattle, farms and homes. Sicily witnessed several families fighting for dominance of local villages, means of livelihood and above all, respect. As the society evolved, so did the Mafia. A cosca, that is, a family, could control the labour unions. Another would control construction. Yet another family would be involved in narcotics. Others would settle for gambling and prostitution and bootlegging. They sound like petty criminals already, don't they? Yes, they got their hands dirty, however, they were far from just petty criminals. They didn't slink around back alleys and flee in terror from the cops. No, they wore suits, went to Mass every other Sunday, paid their penance, donated funds towards public welfare, ran rackets, greased their hair and like every superstitious Italian, avoided the "unlucky" number 17, and held their families paramount. The Mafia was an interesting oxymoron of virtues - merciless and merciful. Diligent service and honor was rewarded, and betrayal, breaking of the sacred code of silence, called Omerta, was swiftly, brutally dealt with. Turncoats were killed mercilessly. Get on the good side of a Mafia Don, and your next few generations reaped the rewards. Get on their wrong side, and find your generation possibly wiped out. That was called a "Sicilian style revenge." The offender, his wife, children and close relatives eliminated, reducing the chances of revenge. Judges, magistrates, politicians who dared opposed them found their blood and bits of flesh colouring the insides of their cars. Yep, that's right. A car bomb. The Sicilian Mafia were simple people. A Sicilian proverb says, "riccu si pò diri cui campa cu lu so' aviri." "One who lives within his means can be said to be rich." They lived frugally, easily, with money spent only when money needed to be spent. They were the game-changers, the ones whose actions and opinions influenced the chain of events. They exuded power and lived for it. You may wonder how such an organized crime syndicate operated so powerfully. Their close-knit structure of families and little regard for record keeping made informants few and far between. The Mafia had the understanding that the blessing of the public upheld their image. Making friends was part of the racket. They had bureaucrats in their pockets - judges, politicians, administrators. Other associates were present - the street policeman, the baker was not left out of their favours. All they wanted? Friendship. And above all, respect. They were the big shots. The bigwigs. The .95 calibers. The Pezzonovantes. However, they were not untouchable. The Italian government from time to time sought to crush the syndicate, either through brute force, mass arrests and torture and through information gotten from traitors among the Mafia. The Mafia, though no longer as powerful as before, to this day, remains one of the most elaborately designed crime networks, infiltrating the United States and even some parts of Canada. Do you think the Mafia are entirely evil? Are they a group created out of good intentions then later grew evil roots along the way? After all, they created jobs, helped a few people along the way and sought justice for the oppressed. As always, I love knowing what you think!

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