As the Bears get set to host the Seattle Seahawks in their divisional playoff this Sunday, Chicagoans are starting to come together like they did when the Blackhawks glided toward hockey’s Stanley Cup last spring.
The excitement brings to mind some words of a 19th century German philosopher: “Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people. The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is the demand for their real happiness.”
If religion is our opium, as Marx put it, then Chicago’s National Football League franchise is our crack cocaine.
More than three years since the economy began to collapse, the Chicago area’s unemployment rate is hovering around 9 percent. Foreclosure filings are rising again. Our wages are anemic. Illinois lawmakers are raising our taxes.
Gee, though, won’t it be great if Julius Peppers knocks Matt Hasselbeck on his ass this Sunday?
We have no connection to these multimillionaire gladiators, yet a few of us are already donning Bears jerseys. It’s the only show of Chicago solidarity we can imagine.
Some of us will even put money on the team, regardless of the odds. We might be a couple months behind on rent. But Devin Hester could go all the way!
On Sunday, finally, we’ll spend hours and hours on a couch, gazing into a liquid crystal display. We’ll cheer now and then, but the experience will be entirely passive.
Then, if the Bears win, the “news” coverage will crowd out most meaningful Chicago journalism for days. The coverage will quickly turn into hype about the next playoff game. And our addiction cycle will continue on.
We could be smoking this rock until at least February 6, the sacred day known as “Super Bowl Sunday.”
Marx may have been wrong about abolishing religion. But the sooner the Bears flame out, the sooner Chicagoans can build some solidarity for things that count.
*This post was edited from its original state to remove a characterization of a mayoral candidate.