Selected quotes from Ruth Sanford's columns 1977-1981




Column 3 on the loss of three friends


Have you ever smelled the fragrance of pine on a hot summer day or on a crisp, cool day in autumn or the delicate fragrance of mimosa at sunset in July or just after a rain?


Column 9 about communication


What shall it profit us if we learn how to establish communication by radio with the beings of other planets only to find that we don't know how to communicate?


Column 12 about the Experimental Program she developed at West Hempstead High School to encourage creativity in the classroom


It was a place where he [a 9th grade boy] and the others, including the adults, could work and play, listen and talk, think and dream, read and write, or be silent, plan and create things alone or together, with people who really saw him and accepted him as a person worth being with, just being with.


Column 32 on nurturing community and complexity


Life would be simple and I would get more of my own work done if I weren't interrupted by telephone calls, or people stopping in or by receiving letters which implicitly ask for a response.  But what barren simplicity!


Column 41 on gas shortages


What would have happened, I wonder, if John Adams and Thomas Jefferson had said to England, “Give us representation in Parliament and we'll forgive and forget and go on as usual"?  Borrowing from Gary Wills, "What John Adams said was 'God forbid!  We don't want representation.  We want freedom!”


Column 43 on Ed Wynne's joke that what's wrong with the world is "Nobody's home".


A community is a number of persons, large or small, who can communicate with one another and who have the well-being of one another as a common concern.


Column 46 on spring, Darwin, and the environment


[She] sees the opening of a renaissance age for humankind, with all its forms opening up resources of earth and spirit and mind, if we take the time to listen before we rush into action again.


Column 47 on the environment revolution

It is a fight to the death - or to life.

Column 48 on a football game at the Yale Bowl on a gorgeous autumn day


But the day, the glorious October day! 

Fresh, cool air gently stirring,

Blue sky saved up all year for this one month,

Great drifting white clouds,

Red of Virginia creeper on fences and tree trunks,

Gold of willow,

First bronzing of oak,

The great bowl with the rich moving paisley of sweaters and jackets,

Warm sun, excitement and tension all around,

The hush as if everyone of 20,000 was readying for the kick,

The crowd rising with their voices for a score.

Open and free and possessed by the moment.


Column 49

Whenever we have a choice we take a risk.  But we in 1980 want choices and security.

Column 51 on Stress


Stress is the tension in an organism between inertia and reaching actively toward its potential.


She quotes Marilyn Ferguson to the effect that the more cohesiveness or oneness within a unit (organism or society), the greater the interaction between its parts, the greater the stress, AND the greater the probability of sudden leaps ahead.


Col 52 on Stress II


The human spirit is resilient and resourceful.  It is breaking free in many subtle and painful ways from its self-built prisons.



Column 5/12/77 on a town meeting


In the study is a painting which I insisted on paying some token amount for when a friend in her teens offered to give it to me.  I had admired it and, Chinese fashion, she gave it to me. So exuberant are the flock of red, yellow and orange balloons each trailing a string and all rising from brown earth skyward, that they lift my spirits even on the darkest day.  But the unexpected joker which delighted me back then, and still does, is the tiny stick figure clinging to the string- tail of the largest one, sailing up, up, right out of the picture.

So come, take a sail with me and our balloons!  There's quite a view from up there!


Column 9/21/78 on giving away your power


She quotes LBJ's father, "When you're talking, you ain't learnin' nothin'


Column 12/21/78 Walter Jones interview

 The light of our appreciation.

Column 3/15/79

A motto she learned in Seaford, England - " the uses of the past in service of the future" Column 1/10/80 on Postmaster Walter Jones and a young friend


Do the important things now.  Say the words which I intend to say "sometime"

Hold out these arms.  Open these doors.  Share the gaiety, the ordinariness, the tears as they come.  Don't be too busy, or life will pass you by.  It doesn't wait! [a persistent theme in her colunms]


Column 6/19/80 on Dreams


I give my flowers to the living, whatever form my flowers take.



Column 9/1 1/80


Listening is a real world.  It leaps over the confusion of all the senses, the countermanding sights and kinetic communications of the day.


Column 10/12/80 Tire flat on only one side joke

To be alive is to be growing, helping the impossible come to pass.


Column 10/23/80 on being all one


She quotes Carl Sagan, " This is not a disposable world...

What are we doing with our stewardship'?"



Column 7/2/81 on Gary Zukav's Dancing Wu Li Masters


She quotes Zukav "The mind of the beginner is empty, free of the habits of the expert, ready to accept its doubt, and open to all possibilities ...”


How would beginner's minds, seeking new limits of understanding and compassion affect our worn-out, suicidal balance of power world politics?