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  • Writer's pictureChristopher McHale

The Cost of Love in a Transactional Society

Navigating the Fine Line Between Wealth and Well-being

Okay, this is not condemnation of business relationships or the need to network. Just a heads-up as to who the real people are in your life. Look after them. They are are rare and precious.

New York City. A seductive mix of dreams and nightmares. I’ve been hypnotized by the towers my whole life. The city matched my ambition. It became my destiny, but it felt like I willed it to be. I loved the challenge and thrived in the pace. My dreams took shape. But at what price?

Once I stepped away, the city faded. The people became wisps. I reached back across the years, but it was like touching air. I came to understand my friendships, partners, friends, even family, was defined by my success. My wealth. And once that relationship was gone, all the rest was as well.

The friends I have now are the friends I had before the glory days. The friends I met traveling in my camper van, the friends from my theater days, from my rock band days, those friends, forged before wealth and commercial ambition took hold, those friends endured.

I once threw a party in the city. 500 people came. The place was packed with friends, but ghosts really. I sit on the oceans shore and feel them in the wind, but they’re were never more than that in my life. Beautiful and missed and gone.

We built an entire culture this way and now find ourselves at the crossroads of transactional relationships and the relentless pursuit of wealth. Our society, built on the precarious foundation that one can indeed get ahead, become rich, and construct an impenetrable fortress of wealth. But the fortress can be a trap. A moat of isolation. The soul-sucking global pandemic of 2020 laid bare the hollow walls we chose to build around us, and the brutal price of letting transactional relationships define us.

The ethos of "crush or be crushed" pervades our daily lives, painting a Darwinian picture of survival where only the financially fittest thrive. This cutthroat mentality, coupled with the glorification of billionaires as modern-day oracles and a culture rife with FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out), propels us into a fog of existential confusion. We find ourselves on a daily treadmill, chasing after goals that often lead us nowhere meaningful, dedicated to pursuits that leave us questioning: To what end?

Amidst this frenetic chase, one can't help but wonder about the existence of a "misery index" for our times. How do we measure happiness in a world that equates love with transactional gain? The collection plate con of the gospel of prosperity. The crooked handout. The pride in a life well lived, built around generations of love and respect, replaced by a bank account sum. The pursuit of happiness, a concept so deeply ingrained in the ethos of our American culture, overshadowed by the pursuit of material success. The wretched equivalenvy. The deep, deep deciet of it. It has left us gasping for national air. Like what nation is this I belong to? What blood sacrifice was made for this?

The answers we seek about ethics, happiness, and the cultivation of character are not elusive, but they seem beyond us. Our digital confusion descending over us like a silcon fog. These are questions humanity grappled with and found answers to over 4,000 years ago. The fundamental principles of living a good life, one might argue, have not changed drastically over millennia. Yet, in the last twenty years, there's been a tumultuous effort to reinvent the wheel, to pretend as though we're on the brink of discovering new paradigms for living well.

This façade of innovation masks a troubling reality: we might have lost sight of what truly matters. The core tenets of ethics and character development, once the bedrock of societies, seem to have been relegated to the background, overshadowed by the shiny allure of wealth and status. A magic unicorn. A chase around the farm yard for the golden goose.

Now we live in a politics of lies. Hate is the coin of the realm. Cheating codified. Hype the goal. We’ve lost our balance. Ethics are inconvenient, dismissed, ignored. Tik-Tok social mansions are built on the collapsing shore. Scientific data that sounds an alarm is muted and buried in the mud room closet. Who has time for doom? We’re working!

It may seen hopeless. I may sound like the cranky old bastard living in a cave far from the reltless rhythm of sampled beats. I’m not. Why? Becuase everythingn we nned is everything we have been given.

As we navigate this landscape, it's crucial to reevaluate our definitions of success and fulfillment. Tha’s how rebrith begins. The chase for wealth, while a legitimate pursuit, should not come at the cost of our humanity. Relationships, whether personal or professional, should transcend mere transactions. Love, kindness, and genuine connection—values that no currency can buy—are what truly enrich our lives.

In this quest for a meaningful existence, we must ask ourselves: Are we merely surviving, or are we truly living? The cultivation of a character, grounded in ethics and compassion, is perhaps the most valuable investment we can make—not only in ourselves but in the society at large.

I don't see these as new ideas,

We've had our ethics and sense of good and less good since the dawn of humanity. What has changed? Nothing. No matter how enamored we are with our technological magic, the magic is simply an illusion unless it is placed in our timeless ethical frame. There's no reinventing the essential truths we live by. There's no flourishing without them.

Honestly, the internet seems kind of creepy to me. The hustle never ends, the scams keep on rolling, the hype has a way of overselling the promise, then not delivering the promise, then moving on to the next promise. What was the promise? Who knows? It comes and goes and never gains any traction beyond sloganeering. Billions are invested in schemes that come and go. Gigabite power seems mostly to move things so fast you never notice the thanotry of the power-point quacks. The next big thing comes at light speed, like a tent pole sequel long past its due date.

Never forget that the Fortress of Wealth we seek to build should have its foundations rooted in humanity. HI, Human Intelligence is the only real intelligence on this little planet, The richest lives are those filled with love that doesn't come with a price tag or terms. Love is unconditional. Period. But unconditional love is a precious jewel. Protect it with everything you have.


If my words spark a smile or a thought, consider tossing a coin into the hat of creativity. It's like giving a high-five to the muse herself! Your support fuels my literary escapades, ensuring that the ink keeps flowing and the melodies keep dancing. Thanks! Chris



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