I read on this blog about the World Fantasy Convention, and I was struck by one of the blogger's very first quotes from one of the panels: "J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis were living in a war era; they were living in an unsatisfactory present, so in their writing they looked back to a more appealing era."
I don't love fantasy explicitly because of this. I just happened to read my first fantasy novel when I was young and absolutely loved it. I loved it far more than all the other types of books that I enjoyed, so I naturally began reading more fantasy. I also got into playing Dungeons & Dragons, so that further pushed me in this direction.
However, I really think there is at least something to this idea that fantasy offers a desirable escape from an unpleasant world. I know that I, for one, am thoroughly discouraged about humanity in general. There are certainly many wonderful individuals out there, but the pure amount of selfishness, corruption, and the vast lack of empathy that I encounter in so many people leave me with a strong distaste for this world. I have no hope left that this world will ever truly become a wonderful place in which to live. There are small victories over time (America has resolved most of the corruption issues that plague most other countries in the world) and these are certainly worth fighting for. I live to try to improve what I can, even in small but significant ways such as instilling true empathy in my children. But for me it is not enough, and that is why I more and more love to dwell within the beautiful, if unrealistic, worlds of my favorite fantasy novels.