From the editor: The butterfly effect

By Rachel Blood

In eighth grade, I read Ray Bradbury’s “The Sound of Thunder” and came to the conclusion that if I stepped on a butterfly, the trajectory of the entire timeline as we know it would change and we would end up under a ruthless dictatorship two centuries later.

That probably wasn’t true, but the idea of the butterfly effect has stuck with me ever since: that the smallest action can create a ripple effect that changes the entirety of the future. What a terrifying prospect. Does each choice we make create an alternate timeline? Does every decision change the person who we’ll turn out to be in 10 years? Does every little choice matter?

We have a tendency to dwell in the “what-ifs” and imagine our lives would be better on the other side of past decisions. We all relate just a little bit to Robert Frost – what would have happened if we took that other road in the yellow wood?

Perhaps that classic Bradbury short story is the reason I’m so indecisive. I’m indecisive about everything from whether I want to stay within the safety of the education system in graduate school to which pair of no-longer-white sneakers I want to wear with today’s T-shirt and jeans. But if we want to avoid stagnancy and finally progress, we have to choose to make the choice.

Sometimes I make the wrong choice, like brainstorming topics for this letter instead of writing my field report on loggerhead turtle endangerment for Environmental Writing. Sometimes I make the right choice, like going to Bethel instead of a school whose mascot is a literal cob of corn (sorry, Mom and Dad). But if I never made those decisions at all, I’d still be living in a constant state of wondering and self-doubt, and I definitely don’t think that’s more fun than being in college and going to Target for a bag of pepperoni at 9 p.m. on a Monday.

The subjects of the stories within these pages have all made life-altering choices. Some big and some small, some that change the trajectories of lives and some that change the trajectories of a single week. But all of them made a decision to choose.

It was a choice to require the COVID-19 vaccine in certain departments, a choice to fight mandates, a choice to attend Bethel instead of a D1 school for athletics, a choice to donate profits to nonprofits, a choice to be sustainable. It was a choice for these people to share their stories with us. It was our choice to tell them.

I hope you choose to open this magazine. I hope you choose to let these stories sit with you and alter the trajectories of your hearts. I hope you choose to make the choice.

I'm a sophomore English and journalism student at Bethel University in St. Paul, Minnesota. I like reporting on people who make a difference in communities, sparking change through headlines and finding the people on the margins with high stakes. I also like cardigans with pockets, Caribou mochas and the surreal feeling of standing under a streetlight at 2 a.m. I want to edit stories from unrecognized writers and connect people through words.

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