Looking inside a Sicilian's ordinary mind can be a very difficult task to accomplish, because of his impenetrable mentality.
Sometimes looking inside an ordinary Sicilian's mind can make you better understand the social impact of the Mafia, and all of the mafiosi's typologies that are deeply entrenched into a society. There are many Sicilians (not mafiosi) which are proud to know mafiosi and they brag about it whenever they can. Just to mention to know a mafioso make them feel feared and respected, like they were mafiosi themselves even though they aren't! If I know someone I am someone. But the thing is, if this someone is a mafioso it's even better. You know, he can open many doors for me.
That honorable guy sent me here!
"In Sicilian dialect: mi manna u zu' toto, or mi manna u zu' pippinu (it's impossible to translate, so that I give you a different English version hopefully with the same meaning)... To an employer: that honorable guy (intending a politician, someone very important, or a mafioso) send me here for a job, and now you must (note: the request is an imposing one) give me a job. While buying a new car, a new house or whatever: that honorable guy send me here to buy a new car, a new house or whatever for myself, now you must sell it to me very cheaply. In short: because of, "that" guy you must treat him respectfully.
The real meaning of the words Mafia and Cosa Nostra in the Sicilian society.
I use the word, "Mafia" often and almost never the word, "Cosa Nostra" (meaning belonging to us) when I talking about mafia topics because on those words there are differences in their meaning, sometime very slight differences that only Sicilians can understand.
Cosa Nostra, what it really means? Unfortunately is very hard to explain it in a plain english, but I'll try it anyway! The common Sicilians never use the words, "Cosa Nostra" when they want to indicate a mafioso, or hes belonging to a family of mafiosi, but they just say: a mafioso, or he belongs to a mafia's family. Only mafiosi call the mafia organization the Cosa Nostra, and thus they named their organization Cosa Nostra. The common Sicilians call it simply Mafia or Mafia organization, never Cosa Nostra. In matter of fact, I remember when I was used to live in Sicily and the Sicilians never spoke about the mafia organization as the Cosa Nostra, but only as the Mafia (news media sometimes refer to the mafia with a symbol, the octopus's symbol because of its many tentacles).
In the other hand, the everyday Sicilians are using the words, "cosa nostra" in regular sentence, for their real meaning like: these toys belong to us. You see, "cosa nostra" means: it belong to us. That's what really means in regular conversations. Keep also in mind to pay close attention, to the tone of voices and the facial expressions when Sicilians are pronouncing words, because sometime they can have different meanings.
In the case of when the Sicilians are using the words, "e' cosa nostra?" (is it ours?) with a particular tone of voice and contemporaneously they are lifting an hand in the air to make a circular motion with their fingers toward their interlocutor, what they are saying to them with their gesture is: did you steal that? Instead, when they want to allude something or someone that belongs to the mafia, they say in a disdainful way: cosa nostra eh! When Sicilians are saying jokingly to their interlocutor, they say: lui e' cosa nostra; what they are saying is: he is with us.
The words cosa nostra, when it is pronounced among mafiosi can have also many meanings. A mafioso when using those same words he intent also something different, and by the way, the mafioso uses them when he's only with other similar. As I said, when they are conversing among them, they are giving to the words, "cosa nostra" also different meanings (now that's the hard part), but remember to pay attention to the different tone voices and facial expressions when they are spoken those words.
When they say: non ti proccupare di lui, e'cosa nostra; what they are really saying is: don't worry about him because he's with us (meaning he's a mafioso like us). When they are simple saying: lui/esso e' cosa nostra (meaning: it is ours); they are saying: don't worry about it/him, we'll take care of that problem or any other problem that will arise. Sometimes that problem could even be an assassination. You see, a subtle change of voice, some gestures, an expression of the face, and the adding of a few more words into a short sentence of two words as the, "cosa nostra" and it'll be enough to pronounce a death sentence.
At last, the mafiosi are using the words Cosa Nostra to name their organization, including any mafioso from top to bottom together with all of their filthy activities. And of course, there are many other instances where those words are used, but they'll take too much space in a single post just to talk about them.
L'arte di arranggiarsi (the art of getting by).
If the Mafia still esiste in Sicily in part is because of some honest citizens that sometimes are unknowingly or knowingly too condescending with their social attitudes, and and because of them, sometimes they are even imitating mafiosi's behavioral by getting their hands on whatever don't really belong to them by using an unethical shortcuts.
In south of Italy, there's a way of thinking that is called l'arte di arranggiarsi (the art of getting by), and it's deeply embedded in the DNA of many people. Sometimes this kind of thinking can be very bad, often contrasting with ethics and laws. More often than not, this form of cheating to beat the system can lead someone to deal with mafiosi, camorristi, or any other form of criminal organizations by asking them favors to get what they are looking for. Of course, the mafioso himself will be very happy to help you (for his help in time, he'll ask you a big favor in return).
This kind of thinking from ordinary citizens on the south regions of Italy, it's what really keeping the mafia and any other criminal organization to fade away from theirs cities. These cities can't become modern and industrialized, not until the bad attitudes from those people of arranggiarsi (of getting by) is removed. Look in Italy: the north and south part of it, industrially there are totally unbalanced. North regions are more wealthy than the south regions, and that's why many poor people decide to leave from the south regions with destinations toward the north of this nation, or altogether to emigrate in a new nation.
Naturally if you could look inside a Sicilian's mind, you could find many other answers that could explain why the Mafia hasn't been defeated yet. To entirely explain the whys and wherefores of the Mafia still living in Sicily, it would take to write many more chapters or to write an entire book which right now I not feel particularly motivated in doing it!
Or maybe it's just because I'm not really that capable to do it? Hmm...