This is an Australian five cent piece; one of several dozen I probably own. They’re usually scattered around the car or hiding in the bottom of a bag or buried in the folds of the sofa… and there’s almost always one rattling around in the washing machine.
I don’t keep track of them because they’re essentially useless; banks don’t like them, vending machines won’t take them and although parking meters still will, you shouldn’t expect to get any parking in return*.
Yet Australia mints between 20-80 million shiny new five cent coins every single year, way more than any other coin. And if you’re starting to question the sense of all this, you should probably keep going as we haven’t got to the truly crazy part yet. Because (depending on the price of copper and nickel) it can cost Australia as much as six and a half cents to make five cents… it’s our most expensive coin.
Of course in the Grand Scheme of Things, this tiny absurdity is the least of humanity’s problems; just about everything about the way we treat our planet and each other is crying out for reform, so who cares about a little redundant currency?
Yet every time I see one of these ridiculous little coins I can’t help think:
‘Really? Is this really as smart as we can be?’
It’s a constant reminder of just how much needs a rethink; it doesn’t matter where you look, you’ll see something that could be a whole lot smarter if only enough people cared. And precisely because there’s so much we need to re-imagine, most of us find it easier to just accept the world exactly as it is, no matter how dumb.
But the five cent piece is a shiny invitation to make something better; to find something small and useless, something so ridiculous and wasteful that whatever you do about it is bound to be an improvement.
Want to make a better world?
Start with small change.
*Luckily, major charities are now asking for our five cent pieces because no-one else wants the damn things.
If we choose to accept the things we think we can’t change… and choose not to care about the things we can… then how can anything ever get better?