Cubs, Guns, and Magical Thinking

I had a strange and vivid dream last night. I dreamed I was on a hijacked airplane- but I don’t remember it as a violent dream. The plane crashed into a building in Istanbul (or what I imagine Istanbul looks like- I’ve never been there) and everyone exited the plane on those inflatable slides you see in the safety demo before take-off. The last thing I remember is being in a upper floor of the building and looking down on the plane, like it was no big deal.

I’ve been thinking about why I had this dream-it’s not something reoccurring and I actually rarely dream about traveling, despite thinking about it (and missing it) often. So maybe the theme isn’t the destination itself but feeling like I’m being taken somewhere I don’t want to go. Chalk it up to election cycle fatigue (I just saw a Twitter rant claiming that The Diary of Anne Frank is fiction) and a dissonant last few days.

I’m not a Cubs fan, but married into the fandom. And that was an exciting World Series- as a fan of baseball I can appreciate the momentousness of Game 7 of this series and what it means to Cubs fans. I watched my husband wear the same Ryne Sandberg jersey for 3 days and get giddy when he saw one of his heroes at the parade on Friday. The Cubs winning the World Series was historic- the stuff of legend. And it was a beautiful, much needed break from the endless pundits and soul-sucking political ads of the last month.

One of things that is fascinating to me about sports is magical thinking- the idea that one event caused another when there’s actually no connection. If I stand in this one location, my team will win the game. I have to wear this specific outfit or my team will lose. You get the picture. Human are amazing at magical thinking.

I even have my own magical thinking theory about the Cubs- in 1999 I moved to Boston and the Red Sox won their first World Series since 1918 five years later. Guess when I moved to Chicago? If you guessed five years, you win a hotdog. So now I’ve basically convinced myself that wherever I end up next, there will be a World Series Trophy there five years later. Forget Theo Epstein- I am the link between these two droughts being over.

There has also been some dangerous magical thinking after this World Series win though. I’ve heard a lot of people talk about how they see the Cubs as a way for the city to turn itself around- to address a year of rising gun violence, poor community/police relations, poverty, segregation, and many other issues. We’ll all come together over this and work towards solving our problems, right? Because the Cubs won doesn’t erase that Chicago is losing in many ways. Sports championships do not equal justice. Trophies don’t erase systemic inequalities. That’s some high level magical thinking.

The day after watching all those buses go down Addison Street, I came home to a car full of bullet holes crashed into a pole a block from my home. At least six police cars, yellow tape, and a ton of bystanders. It was about 3 in the afternoon on a beautiful Saturday and tons of people were out along the lakefront. Luckily no one was killed. On the opposite side of the city that same day, Joshua Beal was shot and killed by police, and demonstrations in the area continue. Maybe I feel that the city’s euphoria has be hijacked by the city’s reality.

Magical thinking can be fun, it can be silly, but it can also be dangerous.  Sports teams don’t solve social issues- community organizing, activism, voting, and participating in the political process do.

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