Orthodoxy - Chapter V: The Flag of the World Summary & Analysis

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Chapter V: The Flag of the World Summary and Analysis

Pessimism and optimism both assume that man has some choice in the world in which he lives. The better attitude to have towards the world is one of love and loyalty, almost as a person loves his country. To love something is not, however, to approve of everything about it. If one loves a town, one will approve only of what is good in it while recognizing that its flaws should, and even must, be remedied. In fact, unless someone has this attitude, a thing can never be changed. Those who hate it, like the pessimist hates the world, will do nothing to help; the optimist, on the other hand, cannot see anything wrong with the world, and, likewise, has no motivation to help. He who truly loves can easily be mistaken for a pessimist (or an optimist) however, and the only way to distinguish them is by their intentions. If a person criticizes the way a house looks, it may be that he is trying to help the owner of the house and has good intentions at heart. However, he may simply be sour and has no intention of helping anyone and simply wants to hurt others.

True loyalty is, in a sense, irrational, because it persists despite any obstacle. A true patriot loves his nation regardless of what happens to it, what laws it passes, or what the government is. This does not mean that the patriot does not wish these things to be different than they are—he may care more than anyone else, in fact—but the love persists. The direct opposite of this loyalty is suicide, because it is a willful exit from the world and a statement that nothing in the world has enough value to justify life. It is common today for people to equate the person who commits suicide with the martyr, but martyrdom and suicide are in fact totally opposed. The person who commits suicide hates everything and wants to get away from it. The martyr loves something, or everything, so much that he is willing to part with it, for its sake, even though he would rather not.

This kind of loyalty is the chief sentiment of the Christian, and why he is able to remain so optimistic about the world while simultaneously shunning it. The Christian is devoted to the world because it is created by God, but is not uncritical of it—and is even untrusting of it—because man has, in some ways, ruined it.

This section contains 442 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
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