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Blue and Orange

There were many nice explorations of complementary colours on the recent Secrets of the Colour Rose course. Here is a little excerpt from the Blue Orange sharing which focuses on the presence and expression of these two colours in two different cultures, Japanese and American. I find it very interesting to notice cultural differences as I travel around the world and let me say at the start that I make no judgement on any of the things that I comment on. To me it is simply fascinating to see how we live colour in different ways in different places.

Communication and Community

The comparison started with two words: Communication (blue) and community (orange). Two words that share the same root and two themes which need the presence of the other to be meaningful. While orange is not a common colour in Japan the orange theme of togetherness is very strong there. For example it is normal in Japan to eat together as a group, sharing dishes and leaving the table only once everyone has finished. In Europe you order a dish just for you and, if it is an informal situation such as eating with fellow students at Dev Aura, typically you will leave the table when you are finished independently of anyone else at the table.

Yellow me

A further noticing about this orange energy around the meal table appeared later that same evening as I was out with some my organizer and some students. At one point we all raised our drinks to say “Kampai” (cheers) and I noticed my glass had failed to touch that of one of the other students’. As I made the effort to make contact before she drank I realized that my value on making individual contact with each person around the table comes from the more yellow individual centred consciousness of the European mind. In Japan the drawing together of the glasses into an orange cluster is already enough for everyone to feel included, it is not necessary to have ones own individuality acknowledged in this action.

Blue: Power of Voice

So, if orange is strong in Japan what about blue? Authority is a blue word and certainly authority is very strong in Japan. Hierarchies are everywhere, listening to those above you is very important, even the act of crossing an empty road waits on the red pedestrian light turning green.

Meanwhile what about blue in Japan? One example that is very striking to me is the freedom political parties have to use megaphones to fill public spaces with their communication. It is not restricted to busy places such as outside railway stations either, but can happen on quiet residential streets too. In Japan those in authority have a lot of permission to project their voice.

Canvassing in Japan

Canvassing in Japan

In the USA

I consider the USA a blue country and this is partly based on its International Dialing code being +1. B1 is the Blue Deep Magenta bottle: energy for communication. In the USA everyone is encouraged to speak up, to assert their wishes and rights. The blue is in the hands of the people. Yet this right to pursue your individual happiness by saying what YOU want (blue) seems to be set above any (orange) collective good.

And so I wondered where is the orange in the USA? And then an image came to my mind – prisoners in jumpsuits. Orange is the colour worn by those removed from society, those who have forfeited their right to a voice. What an interesting contrast.

US prisoners in orange

Orange in US prison life

And then

– Oh well – a little more research shows that orange is mainly for transporting US prisoners … while in prison they wear a wider variety of colours. And of course there is surely a positive orange community energy in the USA too. I imagine small town America, counter culture communities, and many more … still the orange in prisons was such a strong idea I just had to write about it.