This morning I read that Neil Armstrong died. It makes me sad for a number of reasons. Of all the astronauts, he's the one I most admired. He was serious and dedicated to science while the others seemed to be set on fame and playboy frolics. (Even as a kid I noticed. It was that bad.) Anyway, once again a group of news items are stewing together in my brain--this not the least among them. I've been reading The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America in fits and starts. (It's too depressing for me to read all in one go. Sometimes it makes me want to cry.)
And then I think about my own professional circles--because no industry is an island. (As much as Amazon would like you to believe otherwise--that publishing's faultering has everything to do with the eBook [cough]horseshit[cough]--the picture is larger than that.) Businesses (and the economic classes which do exist in America in spite of our denial of such) are interlinked. Like in nature, there is a food chain, a delicate balance of inter-connected life. The extinction of one life form (small businesses, the middle class) results in the collapse of so many others and eventually the biggest. In genetics, one learns that mono-culture is deadly. Biodiversity is life. The same is true of economics, education, and yes, creativity. Right now, I feel America is undergoing the equivelent of an attack of the cold virus from War of the Worlds, only it isn't the aliens that are being attacked. Things are out of balance. The bi-polar financial sector, free of the regulations that kept its highs and lows under moderate control, is now destroying itself (and the rest of us with it) in the process of seeking that ever-illusive high like a drug addict, and like a drug addict it's selling and stealing everything it can to fund more and more of that high. Corporations are doing the same. At what point do we wake up?
As a SF/F author I often hear "Whatever happened to that sense of wonder we used to find in science fiction and fantasy?" and "Why is everything so Grim/Dark?" Personally, I think the above is the reason. On a certain level, I think we're all aware that something huge is going on and that we're sitting on the edge of a change none of us wants. Then there's also this: a sense of wonder requires a climate of ingenuity, ingenuity requires a climate that encourages creativity. Creativity is instantly killed in a monoculture. It simply cannot thrive. And that's the thing. America's ingenuity and creativity is vanishing. If you want the answer to the 'sense of wonder' question, that's it. It has nothing to do with writers needing to make a choice to be more positive. That's equivalent to holding your hands over your ears and humming "Lalalalalalala I can't hear you." under the bed covers.
It's time we did the brave thing. It's time to start again. We absolutely have to exit the monoculture capsule before we suffocate on recycled air. It's time to boldly go.
 This article is a year old but it's still pertinent: Income is San Antonio's Great Divider. Also, read this, and most importantly take a few minutes to look at these charts. Oh, and I'm just going to throw this in here too because it is part of the picture: Ayn Rand Killed Sears. Oh, and add this. And this.