I have always been an animal lover. Growing up on a farm in western Nebraska with animal-loving parents, I was surrounded by dogs, cats, rabbits, cows, fish and even pet rats. My husband and I are the proud owners of two dogs and two cats. If I won the lottery, I would either donate a huge chunk of money to animal rescue groups or start one of my own.

Because of this intense love for animals, I follow quite a few rescue groups and humane societies on Facebook. I love seeing the happy stories of dogs and cats finding their forever homes, but it’s the story of how cruel human beings can be that always brings me to tears. Many of these animals were abused or neglected so severely, their situations are often dire. The fact that they survive and trust humans again astounds me. No matter the situation, I will never understand why people would have the urge to cause so much pain to an innocent creature.

In the strange way my mind works, a quote from one of my favorite shows, “The Office,” came to mind. Two of the main characters are at the massive city dump looking for sales leads that were accidentally thrown away, when one remarks, “Wow. Amazing, isn’t it? No other animal on earth could do this. Maybe beavers. But not like this.” And it just struck me how that is so true. I can think of no other creature who intentionally causes another being pain or who takes and takes and takes from the Earth but gives very little back. It was bothering me, and I couldn’t help but ask Brett if he thought the world would be better off without human beings. He seemed a little taken aback as he said, “It makes you wonder, doesn’t it?”

With our son’s birth only days away, I was left feeling somber and sad about the world we are bringing him into. There are so many things that happen that I want to shield him from and keep him sweet and innocent. I not only want to protect him from witnessing the evils of humanity, but also from the pain that he may experience himself. 

But then, another one of my recent favorite movies came to mind, “Inside Out.” When we are young, are emotions are pure and simple. Happy, sad, angry or disgusted. But as we grow, it all becomes a bit more complicated. Oftentimes, in order to appreciate the happy times in life, we must have those sad or not-so-wonderful moments. Perhaps to know true joy, we also need to experience sorrow. 

It can be easy to dwell on the bad when I see over and over again the terrible ways people treat animals, other humans and the world. But what gives me hope is the ending to many of these videos and stories that pop up on my Facebook. What starts out with pain and sorrow, often ends with relief, love and joy. It’s that happy ending that keeps me watching these videos and makes me optimistic about the world our son will grow up in. It’s proof that while evil exists, there is also so much good in the world that makes it all worthwhile.

Ashley Bebensee

Hi! I’m Ashley, a Nebraska girl living in Wyoming. I grew up on a farm in western Nebraska, graduated with a class of 28 and ventured to the middle of the state to attend the University of Nebraska at Kearney. It was there I met the love of my life and husband, Brett. He is the most romantic, kind and intelligent person I know. And he makes me belly-laugh (truly the best kind). We have two cats and two dogs that are spoiled rotten. I am a content manager at a weekly newspaper, where I get to spend my days reading, writing, editing and designing a newspaper. British television shows, wine and caramel apples from the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory are my guilty pleasure. Shopping with my mom, going to the movies with my husband, long phone conversations with my dad and spoiling my nieces and nephews are just a few of my favorite activities. While I try to plan out all the details of life like the good control freak that I am, God is always throwing in curveballs. And so far, each of those curveballs have given me a bountiful amount of stress and love, adventure and joy, and more blessings than I could have ever imagined.