Before I was a political junkie or a weather geek I was a science fiction obsessed kid who loved the fantasy, visiting different worlds, living adventures beyond myself. I didn’t realize that the books I read held a deeper message setting me on a path to the person I am today. I haven’t lost my love for reading or in what I read – it is as much a part of me as breathing .
A friend of mine from Denmark once told me that the United States is better when it has a full on space program. I think there is a deep truth to that which must be acknowledged. As a country we have to have a dream that unites us. In the 60’s it was the reach for the moon. It drove us and it made us better.
Without that dream, without having something more than the sum of ourselves we are losing ourselves. To make matters worse there is a whole section of our country who is burying their heads in the sand. They are at the same time crying out in fear of everything and in everyone who isn’t exactly like them.
When I was a kid I read about dragons, and telepaths, and new worlds that were different and incredible and full of hope. I read about people coming together for the greater good. There was still a unifying theme behind them – a world that was damaged, left behind because of politics, because of nuclear war, because of oppression. People escaped, they made a better world, they got beyond hate. The worlds I joined had freedoms that were not in our world then, though they were sometimes still edgy, they were acknowledged, and given a space. They were fights that I didn’t even know about as a child in a small town in NM. By the time I was an adult I was very aware and I think far more accepting because in the worlds I lived in as a child same sex relationships were a regular part of the world, color was usually not even noticed, and women’s rights well they were an undercurrent to everything but women were leaders and fighters and could do anything. Ok – I read a lot of female science fiction writers as a kid, maybe why I grew up writing – I saw that picture and knew I could do it. No one told me that these women were really unusual and among the first of their kind.
Today, I read the post-apocalyptic books just as I read them as a child and I’ve noticed a difference. Today, we don’t get to escape. Today, the world is destroyed, through climate change, through nuclear war, through political and/or corporate actions and we don’t get away. People, usually young people, are fighting to survive on a ravaged world and almost always to overcome the older, corrupt world that has led to the destruction, and is standing in the way of whatever recovery may be possible. The danger isn’t from outside, there is no escape away from what has happened. They have to face the destruction that their elders have created and try to build a better world despite them.
We’ve changed. As a political junkie as well as a pure on science fiction “nerd” I can see the loss of hope. Without a space program that engulfs us all we lose the hope of getting to the stars, without a government that can unite for anything we lose hope that we can “be more”. When a major part of our government is so stuck that they will not acknowledge facts or make changes that are more rather than less we are losing hope and our young people are feeling that.
When we reach for the stars we aren’t wasting money, when we invest in science we aren’t wasting money – we are fighting for the future of our children and our world.