The Rainbow Nation

Don’t owe anyone anything—except to love one another; for whoever loves his fellow human being has fulfilled the law.

Rom 13:8

Archbishop Desmond Tutu has called South Africa the rainbow nation after apartheid.

This partially has to do with the tools that were used to aid the transition. Don Beck advised the government at the time to use Spiral Dynamics™.

Spiral Dynamics is a model that describes the evolution of complex thinking in humanity and in the individual. It does not look at skin color, race, gender, biological sex, origin or such categories, but tries to understand the different worldviews at play within man and humanity.

There is a coarse and very helpful categorisation of the development of the human mind in nine different developmental levels as of today. None of those levels is better than the other, they just happen to build on each other historically and logically as extensions of our toolset to cope with changing life circumstances.

South Africa was called the rainbow state partially because those levels are color coded, and focussing at those colors helped forget about skin colors as much as possible. Something we could use today as well.

Those colors and levels are:

Beige: Beige is about survival. Man is not yet fully aware of himself and does not distinguish between himself and his environment. Think Adam and Eve in paradise.

Purple: Security is sought and found in the group. Being aware of yourself also means being aware of the dangers and the future. Think Abraham and his family tribe.

Red: This community of purple is in danger from other tribes and must be defended. Also, for some, it is too tight and they dare to explore what is “out there”. Concepts such as war, tyranny, but also the lust and courage for adventure develop. Think Moses against Pharao, Jahwe against the power gods of Egypt.

Blue: How do you get that raw red power regulated? Exactly – through rules and order. It is important that these rules are not set by the tyrant, but an act of God. That way, the leaders must also stick to the rules. The result is monotheism. Hierarchies are no longer based on physical power but on birthright and vocation. Think Moses and the law.

Orange: Blue is the first rational vMeme: it takes the mind to develop such complex rules and philosophies. Red still works instinctively selfishly. But now, rational thinking continues to develop into logic.

Instead of just believing everything, humans start questioning things: how does it work? Are statements and assumptions of blue correct at all?

The Reformation, the beginning of modern science, and the industrial revolution are creating new patterns of thought. The God-given mythical explanation of the world is replaced by science, the fatalistic acceptance of one’s own position in society and abilities by individual thought, the value of the individual, its right to success and development.

Green: Orange with its idea of “everything is possible” did not think about the consequences. The exploitation of the earth, but also cheap labor, the exclusion of the unsuccessful are direct consequences. Green therefore develops a sense of harmony and tolerance.

Green differs from blue in that it no longer believes in the only truth, neither in the sense of religion, nor in the sense of orange science. Truth is now thought of as subjective.

Yellow: Yellow recognizes that each of the preceding levels is valuable. Until now, the levels fought each other. The old way of thinking had been overcome and dismantled when somebody launched out into the new level. On the other hand, somebody in a previous level did not understand the thinking of the new level, because they did not have to face the new life conditions or had explicitly decided against it, both ways not developing the complexity of thinking.

Blue does not understand how to live as void of values as green does without the absolute truth. Green despises suppression by blue and orange hierarchies. Orange perceives blue as naive, to accept everything simply in faith, and green as unable to make decisions in its addiction to harmony.

Yellow however sees that every level is necessary and important for human development. The stages should be well developed, integrated and transcended, not traversed and ticked off.

Of course, humans must survive (beige), need a safe haven (purple), courage to dare to try new things (red), structures and fixed values ​​(blue), the urge for knowledge and success and the ability to think logically (Orange) , but also the tolerance for the different (green).

Thus, Yellow develops systemic strategies and integral solutions for the survival of humanity and its habitat using all available options without prejudice.

Turquoise: A problem of yellow is that it perceives things more complicated than they are, and leaves emotions out of the picture. Other than that, we do not yet know which life conditions yellow will create which then again call for new approaches and patterns of thinking.

And then?

There will be more levels. It will be interesting to discover what they will look like.

To round off the link to South Africa: it is easy to see now that there are people of all shades of skin color in every level, and people within one level have more in common with each other than people of the same race have.

While this categorisation at first glance seems to just introduce another means of separation, there are a few major differences:

  • One cannot see at first glance the level of thinking and complexity a person has evolved to.
  • Each person is a mix, a chord of levels, as we integrate and transcend those levels.
  • Everybody can grow into the next level when faced with the life circumstances.

But why am I talking about this?

In my last installment, I thought about the new that God wants to bring about, and frankly, is bringing about right now.

When you go back to my descriptions of the levels, I have added small hints to the biblical narrative as I see the levels develop in the bible. Here a list of periods when one of the levels was dominant:

  • Beige in paradise
  • Purple from the birth of Cain and Abel to the tribal structures in Judges.
  • Red from Abraham leaving Ur to the kings in Israel.
  • Blue from the giving of the law through to the pharisees and frankly today.
  • Orange from the reformation till today.
  • Green from the outpouring of the Spirit in Azusa Street until today.
  • And Yellow? Yellow in my view will be lived out through the new that God is giving and starts today.

One principle of change is that we can either embrace the new level or borrow some aspects from it and integrate it into the old level.

Many churches are at blue. They love order, rules, regulations, hierarchies, one absolute truth. But they have somewhat integrated orange and green ideas, namely the individual relationship with God and the gifts of the Spirit.

Other churches have embraced the reformation fully and have become very scientific about the bible.

And others again, usually called liberal churches, have embraced green and major on grace and inclusion.

The blue church can reach people with access to levels below and including blue. It can be a thought leader to people in tribal or warrior settings, people facing life threats, or fellow people in law and order.

But frankly, it cannot understand orange and green thinking, and those people, unless their life conditions are challenged at a very low level by health issues, warlike dangers, financial problems, or loneliness, see nothing of value in such a simplistic way to look at the world.

We cannot leave out levels on our developmental journey. But in the West, most people have had experiences in orange, as they need it for the workplace and in education, and they had exposure to green, as it is available to a major part of the population.

To regain thought leadership and relevance, to live out its calling, the church has to evolve to a yellow worldview and further.

Yellow can serve into all previous levels, having transcended and integrated all of them in a healthy way. And it has the capability to bring together and bridge the gaps between the levels.

What we need now is a theology that matches yellow thinking and still is godly. This will be the word of the Lord for today.

Let the church become another rainbow nation.