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Beige: The First-level Human Niche: "Survival"

In the Beige level of thinking systems all energy is directed toward survival through innate sensory abilities and instinctual relations. At this level humans form loosely organized herd like structures that often change format.

Beige is still active in all countries. It is especially visible in East Asia, Haiti, Egypt, the Middle East, Portugal, Brazil and other South American countries, in Indian slums, and in many parts of Africa including squatter camps in South Africa. Laubscher explains that breeding patterns in society can be studied to understand how Beige develops. High population growth leads to an exponential increase in Purple (Kin Spirit). Limited economic resources systemically put pressure on living conditions and Purple slips back to Beige. The impact of drugs should also be considered. Often people that are drug addicts find themselves homeless and in Beige. She (Laubscher) reminds us that the spiral describes a living system and changing life conditions will lead to adaptation.

Beige is an individualistic system where the motto is express yourself now so as to survive. When the person or culture has solved the question of existence and of "survival", Beige gives way to the second-level system.

Purple: The Second-level Human Niche: "Our People"

Traditionally it was believed that in Purple the emphasis is still on survival, but unlike the Beige system, survival is achieved through banding together as a tribe. Laubscher explains that Purple is a very different thinking system than Beige. In Purple people have the capacity to connect and form groups. This community building does not only happen to hunt together in tribes as originally documented. The way in which identity is defined should be explored in order to understand the human niche, argues Viljoen.

In Purple identity is defined in relation to the interrelatedness with each other and with nature. Self is not identified as a separate entity, but in relation to the collective, resulting in a very real experience of nature and community. This connectedness results in a deep realization that everyone is part of a bigger system and that elements like the earth, plants, stars, moon and sun also have spirit. The seasons of the earth are celebrated through rituals as the rhythms of nature directly impact the living experience in Purple. A very sacred or magical existence is the result of this thinking system. Ritual is the order of the day.

Purple is a collective system, where individuals sacrifice the self for the family, the clan, the leader, the union, the group, the or ultimately "our people". The group is typically organized in a circular form with males and females serving the needs of a typical male elder, leader or father of the household. Ancestors play an important role here as the future is directly impacted by the blessings of those that passed. The group, or clan, preserves sacred objects, places, events and memories; the group observes the traditional rites of passage, the seasonal cycles, and tribal customs. Purple has the gift of storytelling. Parables and metaphors are used to describe real life experiences. Purple read human niches more accurately than any other first-tier niche. They do this co-consciously; they react to it.

Fraternities and sororities in First World countries, teams in professional sports, following for example heavy metal bands and certain corporate tribes are manifestations of Purple. Much religious thinking, especially in Third World countries, embodies such, as do certain trade union activities. Wealth is divided communally, land and territory has a sacred meaning, barter and subsistence are the order of the day. Purple do not ask economic or materialistic questions. They just want to have a better life for their children, good shoes and a good burial. Only when changing life conditions require Purple to adapt or die will this thinking system shift. The boundaries of this system begin to open up as members start to resist the outside world and their children start to interact with the complexity around them. Individuals break free in an attempt to identify self and find them in the next system that is individualistic.

Red: The Third-level Human Niche: "Visible Risk"

Red is an expressive individualistic thinking system and represents the first emergence of real and effective individual action, and ego. An individual in Red wants to break away from domination or the constriction of Purple. He wants to stand tall, receive attention from others, demand respect and call the shots. In politics, while it may use the appearance of a participatory process, unhealthy Red is likely to corrupt the vote as the question that the thinking system presents is not how can we be fair or truthful, but "how can I get power". Initially, low Red is displayed in the form of conflict, aggression and corruption. High Red on the other hand is hero-like or warrior-like. This wonderful human energy is needed to breathe life into a subdued Purple workforce. The innate ability to take action is visually mirrored in behaviour and results in people that portray a sense of always being in control.

The most powerful gets the spoils and decides how they are distributed. In terms of social structures Red is the level of empire, ranging in functionality from the vicious to the heroic. The social uprisings that today are broadcast daily on international news channels, as we see in Egypt, can be explained as Red breaking away from Purple. Often these uprisings are suppressed, not allowing the maturation that is so critical for Red to become highly functional. Red forms gang-like patterns where the person with the most power is viewed as the leader. Rebel groups and unions often have Red leadership.

Red is the human niche that takes society out of Purple and creates real proactive humans. A modern day expression of such is the ruler of Dubai who is attempting to move a whole culture up the emergence ladder several stages in the blink of an eye. Low Red is selfish, predatory and violent. It was ships of Red merchants form colonizing powers that conquered new lands and exploited resources there. A modern day example here is Robert Mugabe, the president of Zimbabwe. Tribal societies need to go through Red to get to the next stage of democracy; facilitating this transition is one of the greatest challenges today. A contemporary manifestation of a Red economic system is Russia today, with its oligarchs. Often Red leaders hold onto power. However in high Red the person is ready to let go, and power does not serve him or her anymore. The next stage can be ushered in.

Blue: The Fourth-level Human Niche: "Stabilizer"

Traditionally it was believed that the Blue level of thinking systems is the beginning of what most people think of as civilization. Purple and Red people feel quite belittled by this statement. Further, Blue is often described as the "Truth Force" because it is organized around an absolute belief in one right way and obedience to authority. Examples of such are the monotheistic religions, God country and apple pie, and communism.

Blue is a sacrificial system, where individuality is sacrificed to the transcendent cause, truth or righteous pathway. Blue believes that righteous living produces stability now and guaranteed future rewards, is impulsively controlled through guilt, and everybody has his or her proper place. Laws, regulation and discipline build character and moral fibre. Education is handed down from authority. Blue also sacrifices the self to gain later – in that sense it is risk adverse. Laubscher describes Blue as saintly, absolutistic and stabilizing. Viljoen speaks to the effectiveness, efficiencies, compliance and reliability of highly functional Blue. In contrast, low Blue follows rules without thinking about it, resulting in inefficiencies, corporate creep, poor customer experience and disillusionment. The organizing principle in Blue is structural and different hierarchical levels of authority are contracted, followed and respected.

The challenge that the Third World faces is that most of its value system stack, for Dawlabani, as for Beck, is Purple and Red, along with a weakened Blue system. Before it can further evolve it needs basic Blue, to be effective and reliable, provide safety and security, and impose a form of justice and stability. The high aspects of high Blue include control of Red violence and the creation of a more stable society based on the rule of law. In Blue there is an emphasis on fairness, equity and uniform treatment. Blue has also created progress over Purple and Red in eliminating human suffering (9).

The absolutistic nature of Blue becomes claustrophobic in high Blue. This paves the way for the fifth-level MEME, once again as an individualistic expressive system.

Orange: The Fifth-level Human Niche: "Calculated Risk"

At this point the stronger and more enterprising members of the group begin to realize that they are being held back by adhering to the rules and procedures of the group, and that they could create better results through individual action. For the first time traditional religion is being challenged. Orange believes in better living through technology. The main idea behind it is that we can shape, influence, promote progress and make things better through the use of scientific methods, quantification, trial and error, and search for better solutions. In this thinking system innovation, progress and success are important. Orange also seeks to manipulate the world's resources in the most efficient and effective manner. Orange is optimistic, risk-taking and self-reliant. It is the human niche of material prosperity through merit. While Blue often looks to the past, Orange looks to the future. Orange is not risk averse like Blue but has an enterprise and calculated risk mentality.

Orange decision-making is based on bottom line results. Options are tested to see which works best. Achieving the desired outcome is of prime importance. An Orange economic system is symbolized by the capitalist ideology in the West, where individual property rights and private ownership of resources are the foundation. Low Orange is materialistic and opportunistic. High Orange is successful, especially in the conquering of the financial world. The world has been conquered through technology-based competition, but this "good life" is somehow unfulfilling. The consequences of not caring for the environment, for example, have begun to come to light, and the absence of the spiritual element has become more apparent. The gifts and lessons of Purple are often forgotten now. Sometimes, however, the strive to conquer becomes empty, preparing the ground for the next human niche.

Green: The Sixth-Level Human Niche: "Inclusive"

The Green thinking system, which is the last in the first tier of levels, appears in the search for inner peace and human connection. Inclusivity and connectedness become the highest values. The well-being of all the people is a critical consideration. Green wants to sacrifice self, now, for both self and others, for humanity, unlike Orange. Green responds to the lack of internal fulfilment of range by seeking peace with the inner self and through exploring the more caring and spiritual dimensions of humanity. When outer-directed, the ideal green social organization is the network, governed by consensus decision-making. The role of Green is to renew humanity's spirituality, to bring harmony, and to focus on the enrichment of human development. Green often shies away from conflict, as all different opinions are valued. In this way Green can paralyze itself.

While ownership of resources remains private, it is heavily taxed and regulated. Awareness of the environment, and of the health of the planet, as well as the worker, is woven into every public and private decision. The knowledge economy is a contemporary manifestation of the early life conditions of Green. Rooted in the World Wide Web's undeclared mandate to democratize access to information, the knowledge economy is redefining the values of the sixth-level system as it matures. Green, however, is well known for being overly permissive, especially with Red, and has trouble dealing with the harsher realities of life. The warm, human aspirations of Green begin to wear thin as the realities of complex social problems appear. The lack of solutions through group effort give way to individual initiative again and the amazing upward journey on the spiral continues at a much higher level of complexity, now in the second-tier system. A quantum leap in terms of thinking patterns takes place and a second tier of thinking systems emerges.


Yellow: The Seventh-level Human Niche: "Systemic/Functional"

As the first human niche in the second tier, Yellow again is concerned with survival – but this time around the focus is on survival of the self and survival of all others. This niche is concerned with functionality. It is an individual and expressive thinking system, taking many of the healthy expressions of Green, Orange, Blue, Red and Purple and integrating them into a more effective system. It recognizes the different evolutionary stages and works to unblock the hurdles standing in the way of a healthy systemic flow for all of humanity with the understanding that chaos and change are a natural part of the process. From an economic policy perspective this thinking system must design what is naturally appropriate for a culture in order for it to emerge economically, Dawlabani explains. The same principle applies to leadership in both private and public domains. Leaders should design interventions from Yellow – thus assisting large-scale transformation.

Unlike low Western Orange practices that exploit the resources of Third World countries or low Western Blue practices that want to fix developing countries from their fundamentalist perspectives, Yellow looks at the cultural content of each human niche in the first tier in these countries and designs economic policies that take on the form of an indigenous ecosystem reflecting the culture's MEMEtic values. As Yellow begins to spread and conditions change, it becomes apparent that individual approaches to global problems are less effective. At this point Yellow begins to transition to the eighth and last known value system when there is an acceptance of the need for coordinated action to deal with the world's problems.

Turquoise: The Eighth-level Human Niche: "Integral-holonic"

To Turquoise finally, the world is a single, dynamic organism with its own collective mind, and the self is at the same time distinct and also a blended part of a larger, compassionate whole. Everything connects to everything else, and holistic, intuitive thinking and cooperative action is expected. A full-merit system of exchange recognizes the totality and efficiency of serving the biosphere will replace all monetary forms of exchange.

The emerging science of biomimicry and its construct of an economic ecosystem provides an early glimpse of what a future Turquoise would look like. Turquoise can see the patterns in chaos and have fractal-like properties. The sense occurs that a person is one with cosmic energy. The cosmos is viewed as the ecosystem that should be protected. It may seem esoteric to others.

Ultimately, the roots of all these interpretations and manifestations of human niches, can be found in the stated view of Graves that the systems refer to bio-psycho-social-spiritual systems in individuals and cultures as they develop and the view of Don Beck that describes the spiral as the invisible scaffolding in our unconsciousness.

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