If you want to know what a nation values most about itself, look at its money.
Aside from the state quarters, America’s money is decorated primarily with portraits of dead white guys. Don’t get me wrong, a lot of those dead white guys accomplished really amazing things, and I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with having Lincoln and Washington and the rest of them on our bills and coins, but it’s interesting to look at other countries for comparison. I was going through the coin jar on my desk recently and came across remnants of my time in Canada and Australia. Most Americans are probably familiar with the beaver and caribou (at least I think that’s a caribou and not an elk) on the Canadian nickel and quarter.
Australian money is even cooler. They have coins featuring a swimming platypus…
An adorable curled-up echidna…
And best of all, a lyrebird. Look carefully – all those feathery plumes are its tail, and you can just see the head under the number 10, partially hidden behind curling tail feathers.
If this bird looks familiar, it might be because the Superb Lyrebird is the subject of a well-known David Attenborough clip documenting its amazing vocal abilities. (I feel very lucky to have seen one of these in the wild when I was in Australia, although the one I saw was just walking around, not displaying and mimicking car alarms.)
If I were redesigning American money, I might replace some of the buildings and dead white guys and weird Masonic symbols with prairie chickens, or bison, or alligators, or redwoods, or pronghorns, or salamanders, or saguaros… well, you get the idea. What image would you put on your currency to honor your country’s wilderness and wildlife?