The Kryptonian Flag & The Kryptonian Virtues
At first it might seem odd that these two subjects should share a page, but the truth is that the Kryptonian flag is built specifically to represent the virtues that Kryptonians are taught to value. As such, to discuss one you almost have to discuss the other.
The Kryptonian Flag
The flag of the Planetary Federation of Krypton (above) first appeared in Action Comics #246 (Nov 1958). It is comprised of an image of Krypton with 10 differently colored rays emanating from it. It is a flag that symbolizes diversity emanating from unity. It also symbolizes the 11 Kryptonian virtues (see below). The layout of the flag is closely related to the layout of the Kryptonian alphabet (which was no accident). See the initial page on Kryptonian Writing to see the written alphabet.
The idea of 11 Kryptonian virtues was birthed from Kevin J Anderson's wonderful book, The Last Days of Krypton. In the book, Anderson writes about 12 obelisks that Lara Lor-Van was going to use for an art project to "demonstrate the powerful foundations of Krypton's civilization: Hope, Imagination, Peace, Truth, Justice, and others." I think the intent in the book was likely that these were more Lara's interpretation/representation of Kryptonian morals rather than an actual codified list of cultural platitudes. Combining that notion with the golden-age flag, I expanded Anderson's list of 5 out to a full eleven, gave the list a name, and assigned them each a place on the flag which also indicated a reciprocity/synergy between specific pairs of virtues.
Extra special thanks to Tony Carey of Australia who worked closely with me to refine and codify the list to the 11 here and determine flag placement and pairings.
V gïod /tiv girod/ (The 11 Virtues)
The image of Krypton plus the 10 rays on the Kryptonian flag (fig. 1) each represent one of the 11 Kryptonian virtues. These virtues are collectively known as the "Girod". All of these virtues are learned by Kryptonians at a very early age. School children are expected, more or less, to exemplify these virtues in their work whenever possible. As adults, Kryptonians all hold these virtues in high esteem and seek to reflect them in their lives.
zeD /zehdh/ ("Unity/Belonging")
The designers of the Kryptonian flag took this virtue historically reserved for those in one's own house and applied it to the entire planet to symbolize that all Kryptonians belong to one family and share one home. They also gave this virtue primary importance with the understanding that a successful and peaceful government requires that its populace have a sense of belonging and ownership.
Soh /shokh/ (Truth)
Considered the primary virtue before the foundation of the planetary federation, truth garnered this primary place on the new flag. This virtue is not only about honesty in dealings with one another, but is also equally about learning and knowledge—finding the truth of how things are and how they work. Although this virtue was central to the science-based government that began the federation, in the last days of Krypton truth gave way to fear and a kind of societal self-delusion. Also see the section below on the core virtues.
üviS /urvish/ (Peace)
This virtue was placed at the top of the flag to symbolize peace above all - an idea that, near the end of Krypton's history, was sometimes taken to ludicrous extremes. The color of the oceans was chosen to serve as an object lesson; peace leads to beauty and prosperity while "storms" lead to danger and calamity.
ucavÁ /uchahvia/ (Synergy)
This virtue is the uniting of resources and purposes that leads to a strength greater than the sum of the parts. Yellow was selected as it was a pre-existing symbol of power; this derived from the ancient discovery of the effect that yellow sunlight had on Kryptonian physiology (although it had become a little-known and closely-guarded secret during the time of the planetary federation's formation).
ZguZö /zhguzhor/ (Imagination)
Though usually a solid purple, especially in conservative settings, the color of this ray can officially be anything - from an iridescent hue to a pattern to an image - and is, thus, a reflection of the virtue it represents. Unfortunately, this virtue, historically one of Krypton's greatest strengths and the one with the greatest potential for saving the planet, was heavily suppressed in Krypton's final years.
iGå /ighai/ (Purity)
Intentionally, white was prominent in council garb and government buildings. It represents not only moral purity, but also, in all areas of life, focus, single-mindedness of purpose, and a resistance to distractions. As one must remain pure in all areas of life, so white (light) is made up of all colors. As white (material - ice, crystals, paper, etc) is free from blemish or stains, so one must keep their life free of anything that could "stain". Thus, white was chosen to represent purity.
täO /tahrao/ (Justice)
Kryptonians tend to have a very fair and balanced sense of justice, but it also often tends to be swift (sometimes too swift). They are also often heavy-handed when it comes to sentencing. Also see the section below on the core virtues.
:jaGa /:jahghah/ (Restraint)
It is in exercising this virtue that Kryptonians can, at times, seem cold and emotionless. Kryptonians, however, are a very passionate people, but they long ago learned the lesson that passion without restraint leads to all kinds of problems. One must check internal forces (desire, passion, self interests), which are represented by yellow, with the external (morality, community), represented by red. Thus, orange was chosen to represent the virtue of restraint.
SaReT /shahrrehth/ (Hope)
One might also translate this virtue as "optimism". It is a (sometimes stubborn) belief that things can and will get better, and that one can be part of the solution. Hope for the best (purity: white) and hope in God / Rao (red) combine to form pink as the color for hope.
gaZRyg /gazrhyg/ (Industriousness)
This virtue is considered one of the core virtues, for without action, diligence, and hard work nothing will get done—no matter how virtuous you are.Also see the section below on the core virtues.
ükynon /urkynon/ (Altruism)
Rao, the red Kryptonian sun, is the religious symbol of the power greater than the self and the sense of community and morality; it is the symbol for selflessness and generosity. Thus, red, the color of Rao—the great gift-giver, is the symbol of altruism.
The Traditional Core Virtues
Green is the color at the (approximate) center of the visible spectrum. It was chosen to represent the centrality and importance of the three core virtues of the Girod: Truth, Justice, and Industriousness.
Soh /shokh/ (Truth)
The bright green of truth symbolizes the light that truth sheds on any topic or situation.
gaZRyg /gazrhyg/ (Industriousness)
A large part of Krypton's local economy was built around agriculture. One of the main crops was an edible seaweed-like plant called sylten /syltehn/. Thus, the mid-green representing agriculture and growth symbolizes the prosperity that comes with hard work.
täO /tahrao/ (Justice)
The darkest of the three greens on the flag represents the "solid" and "heavy" nature of Kryptonian justice.
After growing up on Earth in the United States, Kal-El later loosely equated industriousness as "The American Way" reflecting what he saw as one of the core values of U.S. culture and a central tenet of the "American Dream". Thus was born the famous "Truth, Justice, and the American Way" with which we are all familiar.
The Planetary Federation
It was the newly-formed planetary federation of Krypton that first associated colors with every virtue, and they acknowledged and underscored the importance of the core virtues by selecting green for all three. The decision was made, however, that the government would emphasize a new core set of virtues above all. This proved to be one of the keys to what would become Krypton's golden age—an age free from the centuries of bloodshed and conflict (Peace), of scientific and spiritual exploration and enlightenment (Truth), and of great accomplishment through a newfound planetary cooperation and unity (Synergy).
Every virtue is arranged on the flag opposite another virtue (with the exception of "Home"). These pairs of virtues represent not a balancing effect—not opposites, but rather, in true Kryptonian fashion, a synergistic effect. These pairings, as much as the individual virtues, reveal much about Kryptonian culture and ideologies.
Truth & Justice
The more truth you have, the better and fairer justice will be. The more justice and civil discipline you have, the more it frees the people for scientific, artistic, and spiritual pursuits of truth.
Peace & Restraint
One cannot have peace without restraint—the greater the restraint (self-control), the greater the peace. Restraint, in turn, is enabled by an inner peace—whether talking about a single person or a whole society.
Synergy & Hope
It is through the synergy from cooperation and combining of resources and abilities that the best possible outcome can be reached. This knowledge then provides a very solid foundation on which to build hope and optimism. One must have hope and optimism in order to put faith in others enough to cooperate and combine resources.
Imagination & Industriousness
Imagination provides ideas, direction, vision, and dreams. It then takes hard work to see all of those things come to fruition. Work and industry, likewise, lead naturally to knew ideas and innovations—just as the old Earth proverb goes, "Necessity is the mother of invention."
Purity & Altruism
Purity in all areas of life—especially in adhering to the Girod—naturally leads to a balance of "self" and "other", and it is from this balance that altruism naturally flows. Also, it is when one is increasingly generous and "other-focused" that one is able to quell the internal forces that are a distraction, and make great strides towards one's own personal purity—of morals, focus, method, and purpose.