This article is not about Notre Dame football.
It's about those who love Notre Dame football and read about Notre Dame football and write about and comment on Notre Dame football.
In other words, it's about you and it's about me as well.
I've been a member of Bleacher Report for a little over a year, and I wrote my first of about 10 articles in December of 2010. I have read many, many articles and columns here over that time and have done my share of commenting on what I have read.
And I must admit that I have been guilty—on occasion—of doing exactly what I am about to ask you, my fellow Bleacher Creatures, to resolve to stop doing in 2012:
Please stop being uncivil, impatient and rude with and to fellow BR readers and writers.
Now, not all of us—or even most of us—are guilty of this. But too many of us are, and even the best of us are—at times.
My point is this: If our words on these pages are to reflect what Notre Dame fans and admirers truly represent, some of us need to clean up our acts.
Notre Dame fans, and especially alums, already have a stigma that has been attached to us by too many misinformed people as being arrogant, smug and self righteous.
I don't believe that reputation is warranted. I think we are a very proud fan base because we are confident that the school and football program that we love is doing things the right way.
Notre Dame continues—despite the immense pressure to win—to recruit young men of quality, and then strives to accelerate their development as not only athletes, but as students and human beings as well.
We believe that this effort and dedication to "Educating the Mind and the Heart" of their players helps to cement Notre Dame's reputation as a special place in the increasingly controversial world of BCS college football.
Our belief that Notre Dame is a special place does not make us arrogant. It merely shows our pride in the fact that it tries to do things the right way. Though, perhaps, it is a pride we may be guilty of wearing too much on our sleeves at times.
Never the less, arrogant we are called, and always will be called by some.
Therefore, in a small effort here to help undo this erroneous reputation, and in an effort to just be better human beings, we need for our words here and our attitudes toward each other and to those who may be new to these pages to reflect the true Notre Dame spirit and attitude.
We need to stop giving ammunition to those who would like to tear us down by using our own words against us in order to try to prove that we are something we are not.
I know...there are some Notre Dame "haters" who come to this site just looking for a fight and to get a rise out of us. Most of us regulars know who they are.
At times, it can be extremely difficult to maintain our composure in the face of the ridiculous things they say. I am as guilty of this as anyone. I was even banned from BR briefly for using an expletive when responding to one of these fools last year.
But I have tried to do better, and I ask you to do the same if we are to show people who come here what kind of people the Notre Dame family is truly made of.
And it's not just responses to the "haters" that are at times inappropriate. Sometimes it's merely because we disagree with a simple comment or point of view.
I will sometimes see a response to a newly published article along the lines of: "This is a stupid article! How did it get published?" or something similar.
Now, while this kind of response to or comment on an article is not vulgar, it is certainly uncalled for and probably very hurtful to the writer and does not reflect the true character of the average Notre Dame fan.
While it may be true that an article appears here now and then that is not particularly good, we all need to consider that it may have been written by a very young person, or maybe someone who was not very well-educated but who loves Notre Dame football as much as the rest of us do.
What do we accomplish by making them feel small because they are not particularly well-educated or informed or as gifted as a writer as some of the rest of us may be? When we seek to diminish them with our words, it just makes us look small as well.
And there is one thing I know about true Domers or even most "wanna be" Domers. We are not—by and large—small people.
We are caring, considerate, creative, compassionate and, above all, classy...at least most of us are, most of the time. Let's vow in 2012 to show that side of us to the rest of the world. If not everywhere and every day, at least here on Bleacher Report.
As my mom used to tell me, and what I vow in 2012 to remember and to act on daily is this:
"If you haven't got something nice to say to someone, don't say anything at all!"
Happy New Year, and GO IRISH!