“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?”

Freedom of SpeechI 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 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 at least in the 200-250-word range (a solid paragraph), with substantially longer posts welcome and, indeed, invited. Use the Contact page to send original posts.

Comments to the posts of others might be shorter than 200-250 words 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 unless Gadfly knows the poster and agrees with the reason for anonymity.

The Gadfly reserves the right to do minor editing for grammar and length and clarity.

The Gadfly reserves the right to refuse to publish or to edit posts with negative personal comments about or personal attacks on others.

Gadfly reserves the right to refuse publication for posts poorly written or lacking clarity and will normally offer the author the opportunity to revise.

Courtesy should always rule.

The header is a Morning Call/April Gamiz Oct. 20, 2017, photograph. The gadfly icon contributed by Al Bernotas.

Edward J. Gallagher
The Gadfly
First flight: September 16, 2018