The Green Back vs. The Rial

A single banknote can reveal a lot about the attitude of a nation.


A single banknote can reveal a lot about the attitude of a nation.

Take Iran for example. On each 100,000 rial bill it says: “Human beings are members of a whole in creation of one essence and soul.” Not exactly what you would expect from the most demonized state in the world, yet there it is plain for anyone to see if they want to look.

There is something altogether enchanting in those words, even if the realities on the ground don’t necessarily show it, something that we haven’t had here in North America for a long time. A culture with such a selfless and beautiful sentiment driving its core might actually outlast us all.

So what does our money here in North America say about us? On every American one-dollar bill it says “In God We Trust.”

But really? God? What God? Certainly not the Christian God who commanded us to cancel debts, turn the other cheek, show compassion to strangers and love one another as we love ourselves. Let’s be honest here. The God on our cash isn’t the God of Abraham, altruism, compassion or any derivation of those things. It’s the God of the self on our bills. Greedy. Whiney. Voracious. Selfish. Hungry. Never satisfied. Obsessed with its own importance. The money could just as easily say “ho ho ho.”

We shouldn’t be so sure of ourselves. If we’re going to face the financial, cultural and ecological tipping points ahead we might want to take a moment and consider what we’re worshipping each time we put a dollar on the counter.

Currently, all over the world, every truism, every belief, every foundational precept of civilization is being shaken, twisted and wrung-out in a desperate search for a truth that might keep us from ending up where it is that we’re likely heading.

So let’s ask ourselves: is this the only impulse upon which to build a civilization?