“God has specially appointed me to this city, as though it were a large thoroughbred horse, which because of its great size is inclined to be lazy and needs the stimulation of some stinging fly [the gadfly]. It seems to me that God has attached me to this city to perform the office of such a fly; and all day long I never cease to settle here, there. and everywhere, rousing, persuading, reproving every one of you.” (Plato, “The Apology of Socrates”)
Socrates is our prototype Gadfly. Such a pest he was that, in effect, Athens put him to death. As Dr. Phil might have said, “How’s that workin’ for you, Socrates?”
I think of another kind of world. I live in a Norman Rockwell fantasy of a small town. The Rockwell of the Four Freedoms series of paintings, for instance, particularly the one titled “Freedom of Speech,” in which an average guy – a humble Gadfly — respectfully speaks his piece at a town meeting and is respectfully listened to.
The viewer’s eye in the painting is that of a fellow townsperson, in front and to the left of the speaker. We do not see the town council or the mayor. In my fantasy, however, we do. And in their rapt attention to the speaker, we recognize that every elected official in a democracy began as a Gadfly. That elected officials are Gadflies still. That elected officials are simply but significantly Gadflies with power.
Fantasy, for sure, but the fantasies we have shape the lives we live.
Let this blog, then, be a place to respectfully share our questions and answers, our dreams and nightmares. Leaders and led alike. Together. Outside the sometimes stilted formality of Town Hall on Church Street. Here every woman and man a Gadfly.
This is not “my” blog but “ours.” I hope for your contributions. I depend on your contributions. I anticipate with pleasure your contributions. I hope to be more moderator, gatherer, organizer, channel.
Let’s get to it. Join the conversation. Better yet, start the conversation.
The Nuts ‘n Bolts:
“The Bethlehem Gadfly” has two major sections:
The Gadfly seeks both original contributions and comments on the posts of others relating to issues of import to residents of Bethlehem. The Gadfly seeks serious, thoughtful posts, with some depth. A good original blog post should probably be in the 200-250-word range (a solid paragraph), with a limit, say, of 500 words. Use the Contact page to send original posts. Comments to the posts of others might be shorter but should also be serious and thoughtful. Commenters should always be conscious of adding value to the post of another: a better way of saying the same thing, a new point or example that makes the same point, a new idea building on the previous one, a disagreement or criticism, and so forth. Courtesy should always rule. There will be no anonymous posts except in extraordinary circumstances. The Gadfly reserves the right to do minor editing for grammar and length. The Gadfly reserves the right to edit out negative personal comments about or personal attacks on others. Again, courtesy and respect rule. More substantive editing will be cleared with the author.
To balance the “serious issues,” the Gadfly imagines a cluster of regular departments of “fun stuff,” but also dependent on the participation of others:
Local Color: original creative work with recognizably local Bethlehem subjects or connections — art, poems, mini-essays, vignettes, photographs, songs — that help us see or think about our town and townspeople in interesting ways.
Bethlehem Moments: We are a town that has made a lot of history and that has made history part of our current identity. But how many of us really know our history? What “moments” should we remember? Watch this space.
Gadfly History: Gadflies are the unofficial officials of a town, self-appointed to be the voice of the people. They deserve recognition and remembrance. We’ll look back at our classic Gadflies and dust off some of their work.
Then ‘n Now: The title comes from Mark Iampietro’s book, the general idea from the similar postcard work of William Weiner, Karen Samuels, Ken Ranieri, and others – images of Bethlehem past and Bethlehem present compared and contrasted to wonderfully remind us of our heritage.
Send all contributions and queries to “Dear Gadfly” on the Contact page. Potential contributors to the “fun stuff” might especially want to first communicate with the Gadfly about their ideas before submitting.
The header is a Morning Call/April Gamiz Oct. 20, 2017, photograph. The gadfly icon contributed by Al Bernotas.
Edward J. Gallagher
First flight: September 16, 2018