This proverb was passed down to my informant from her mom who learnt it from her parents. My informant believes that the proverb means that one has to be able to work with others well in order to get many things done in life. Furthermore, she believes, if you treat someone nicely, they will treat you nicely back. I asked her mom about where she got this as well, and she said that it came back to how she and her family were raised in New Jersey, since they grew up in a tough neighborhood and had to learn respect this way. According to her mom, this was how her family had learned respect from very long ago and this saying was acquired through experience. Thus she passed it down to her kids hoping they would do the same.
I believe this proverb reflects the lifestyle of the family’s past, and it functions as a model for how to live properly. This was knowledge which was passed down from the experience of my informant’s family and they believe it to be simple wisdom. Thus when they pass this proverb down to younger generations, they hope that they can learn from it as well as they did when they were younger.