Red is the color of warning. Of danger. Of caution. It’s used all over the world to denote the same sense of “Stop!” or “Be Careful!” I appreciate the value of that universal understanding of color in that way, or at least the global appreciation of red as a color of warning.
As I slowed to a stop at a busy traffic light on a cold rainy night recently, I was struck by the overwhelming number of red lights glaring at me. Yes, it makes sense from a safety standpoint, but once I had come safely to a stop, I was increasingly annoyed by the blasting of red light.
And that got me to thinking.
What is the history of our cultural understanding of red as the color of danger? Was the color of our blood the source of inspiration? Perhaps fire? The color of the first “uniform” worn or flag carried by a human enemy?
Once a color was decided upon, even by only a small minority, I can see why it was universally adopted. But why red? How differently would we feel about red, or blue, or green or any other color if that color was chosen as the color of warning?