Maurice Clarett – philosopher king

25 03 2009

Maurice Clarett, the former Ohio State running back and current felon serving three and a half years of a seven year sentence, has a blog going from inside the walls of his correctional facility.  He orally transcribes his musings to his friends outside of prison who (must) correct for grammatical errors and then post it for him on his blog, “The Mind of Maurice Clarett“.  I am only posting this because it seems this guy had some sort of transformational epiphany.  You would think that this kind of blog would follow all the usual cliches coming out of the mouth of a caught criminal – “Oh I screwed up, I’m a changed man, I found Jesus, I’m wasting my life and it’ll be different when I get out, I appreciate the little things in life, the birds, the trees, showering without ten dudes who haven’t seen a woman in a decade soaping themselves up uncomfortably close to me.”  And then when they get out they are just the same asshole they were before they got in.  As the Misfit, a character in Flannery O’Connnor’s most read short story, says “she would have been a good woman if it had been somebody there to shoot her every minute of her life.”

And it is full of all those cliches.  But there is something else there too.  Even the most pappy formulaic movies can be considered masterpieces if the execution is flawless (“The Godfather”).  And reading his blog you come away kind of awed at the guy’s maturity and surprisingly intelligent view of the world.  Its self-help mumbo jumbo but its finely tuned and gleaming:

You don’t have to respect someone to show them respect. I used to be under the impression that respect was to be earned. I don’t see it that way anymore. I picked up that observation here in prison. You have people inside these walls who probably cannot stand each other for one reason or another but respect is still given for the purpose of keeping order and respecting personal space and boundaries. I believe trust is something that should be earned and not given away but I can’t say that respect falls into that category anymore.

When I make observations like that I try to think back to when I was free. I ask myself, “Was respect given all of the time no matter how I felt about whomever personally?” The answer is usually, “N0.” when I go down memory lane with those people in mind (those I did not show respect to), I can vividly see where unnecessary problems took place. Fundamentally, I think that the destruction of most of my relationships came from a lack of respect on my behalf. I used to think that the whole world had to bow down and pay homage to me because of whom I was and where I came from. Crazy, huh?

Showing respect to others no matter how you feel about them personally goes a long way. Ninety-nine percent of the time people will give you the same respect you give to them. It is a natural feeling to want to be treated like a human being. Respect keeps order and order is necessary in every culture. It is my suggestion to those with attitudes like I had, prior to incarceration, make showing respect to everyone mandatory. Life is a little easier to manage that way.

You can’t really argue with any of that.

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