Been thinking about... coins

Published February 2, 2023

By Joe Mavretic

Years ago, at a high school football game with coach David Diamont, I asked the referee what kind of coin he used for the opening "Toss." He said he used the silver dollar that his father had given him for his 16th birthday…said he couldn’t remember how many games he had used the coin but it was a bunch.

 I can’t tell you how many times I’ve flipped a coin to decide something…mostly who pays or who goes first. There’s this thing about American coins- there is always a head on one side (called the Obverse) and something else, like a building, branch or bird, on the other side (called the Reverse).

Anyone using a coin toss knows that someone has to call either  "Heads" or "Tails." 'Course you have to have a coin to toss and you have to decide who’s going to call it-that sometimes leads to a fuss and there’s always the person who loses the first time and call for "2 out of 3." Whatever the situation, the coin gets tossed, the call is made while the coin is in the air, and when the coin lands, the game is over. Someone wins and someone loses!

When we toss a coin we believe the loser will do whatever is expected because on the obverse of every US coin there are the words, "IN GOD WE TRUST" and "LIBERTY."  If you call Heads, and it comes up Tails, you do whatever was at stake. In football, your team either kicks off or receives, at a restaurant you pay, or if it’s a wager-you lose. Tossing a coin is a simple, honest way to make a decision, settle a conflict or set a priority.

At every seat in our General Assembly there is a small box with a green button (like Heads) and a red button (like Tails). Whatever the question, each sitting member must press either the green or red button…there is no maybe button. When the buttons are totaled one side wins and the other side loses…. A kind of aggregate coin toss. One side prevails, the other loses, the decision is made, and debate on the next question begins.

I’ve been thinking about coins a lot lately because so many people are acting like their coins only have one side…their side. When I read newspaper columns, or watch television news, or listen to friends and  acquaintances talk about events or issues, most of the opinions come across as a one-sided coin. Seems to me that we’re in a bad spot when we think that coins, or opinions, have only one side. When there is an UP, there is a DOWN. When there is a LEFT, there is a RIGHT. When there is a FEMALE, there is a MALE. When there is a RICH, there is a POOR.

Yin and Yang have a lesson for us in these contentious times….there is another side. We may not agree with the other side but we should at least acknowledge that it exists. Toss the coin, make your call, win or lose, and move on!