In Memoriam, by Andrea Loomis

Ruth Forbes Young was born in 1903 a great granddaughter of the American transcendentalist philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson and John Murray Forbes of Boston/China tea trade fame.

As a young woman she assisted her uncle Cameron Forbes, the first Governor General of the Philippines, host such figures as General Pershing and President Taft at her family’s Massachusetts island retreat. She studied painting at the Arts Students League, later showing her still life’s and landscapes in one-woman exhibitions in New York and Philadelphia. With her first husband, the architect George Lyman Paine Jr. she bore two sons, Michael and Cameron. Designing sets and costumes herself she produced ballets in Santa Barbara where she moved with her children after divorce. Marriage to her second husband Giles Thomas ended with his death in 1944.

Mrs. Young’s mature contribution to international affairs was triggered by the dropping of the Atom Bomb in 1945. Believing every citizen who was able should act to help prevent further catastrophic war, she joined the World Federalists bringing such people as Clement Atlee to the table of several fundraising dinners she organized. When she realized more could be done to involve private citizens directly in the quest for peace–for the Federalists lobbied the government–she initiated the group IPAC, or the International Peace Academy Committee to study what most needed to be done. On the advice of U- Thant, she sought out Maj. General Indar Jit Rikhye who had been Dag Hammarskjold’s as well as his own military advisor; for he knew more about the subject of conflict resolution than any other professional.

In 1970 Mrs. Young founded the International Peace Academy with General Rikhye as its president. In the following decades as part of her fundraising efforts, she wrote letters to vast numbers of individuals interested in international affairs informing them of the Academy’s unique mission and programs.

In the late 1940’s she married her third husband, the inventor of the Bell 47 Helicopter and philosopher Arthur Middleton Young. In 1972 the couple founded the Institute for the Study of Consciousness in Berkeley, California. Since her husband’s death in 1995, Mrs. Young has primarily devoted herself to encouraging the study of Young’s meta-paradigm, the Theory of Process, which resolves the conflict between the findings of science and spirituality and is increasingly applied to practical problems in the fields of education, psychology, business and international affairs.

A memorial tribute

Ruth Young was one of the most accomplished and gracious women of our times. Few people beyond those whose lives she actually touched knew the many facets of her talent, nor the depth of purpose that imbued her activities. Ruth Young avoided celebrity with the same determination others seek it. Modest, playful, soft-spoken, and beautiful even at ninety-four, Ruth possessed a knack for “making the right things happen,” an ability she purposefully honed in her words by studying what needed to be done and then acting to do it. She never flaunted her background as the eldest great granddaughter of both the transcendentalist philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson and John Murray Forbes, the activist engaged in the Boston/China shipping trade. Indeed, it was only in her later years that she began to share stories of her unusual family and the pearls of wisdom she cultivated from experience.

As a woman with no professional history in international affairs, but simply “a hunch that something must be done” to prevent further catastrophic war after the dropping of the Atom Bomb, she founded the International Peace Academy. Today the IPA is one of the most important non-governmental organizations providing off-the-record meeting grounds for figures such as Kofi Annan who, as head of the U.N. Peacekeeping Operations long before his appointment as Secretary General, called for preventive diplomacy and preventive action to nip conflict in the bud.

As a painter adept at portraiture as well as still life, Ruth Young exhibited her paintings in galleries in New York and Philadelphia. Her portfolio also contains surrealist images of wan human beings, their heads poking up from holes in the ground devastated by war, as well as young African Americans dancing the Lindy Hop over 50 years go. She would resume work on a painting long after it was apparently finished, adding just the right stroke, for one stroke could change everything, to perfect it. In her later years she delighted in “painting peephole vistas in the actual landscape, surrounding her country home in Pennsylvania so that the distant hills could be enjoyed.

As the wife and helpmate of the late Arthur M. Young, the inventor and philosopher (see New York Times obituary news June 3, 1995), she founded the Institute for the Study of Consciousness in Berkeley, California. This organization helps increase knowledge of man at this turning point in history, the implications of his paranormal abilities, and of a universe seen increasing as existing, and evolving, though the principle of intention. Furthermore, Ruth Young created the easy, quiet atmosphere in the homes she and her husband shared that allowed Arthur Young’s genius to flower, and colleagues, friends and family to participate in Young’s creation of the Theory of Process. This meta-paradigm, (revealed in The Reflexive Universe, The Geometry of Meaning and other writings, incorporating the latest advances in science as well as spiritual wisdom lore, is considered by many experts to be the most satisfying model on which to base a new understanding of reality. It is Ruth Young’s Guide to the Reflexive Universe, written almost 20 years ago, however, that introduces Young’s ideas in plain language for the average reader and shows clearly why such a theory is needed.

“I believe that much of education has settled into a program of preparing people for finding jobs in our present industrial age, but most people are realizing something more is needed. We are facing a boredom sickness or general malaise caused by the narrowness and repetition of this orientation. The making, exchanging and consuming of goods is not enough. We need to ask what is the purpose of life. It is time we faced this question not only for man’s health and happiness, but because we have come to realize that a thoughtless and unlimited pursuit of industrial goals is destructive of the ecology on which we are ultimately dependent.

I feel that the world-view proposed in The Reflexive Universe can help people reorient their perspectives, set goals that can be truly fulfilling, and remember that we are each an essential part of an evolving universe.

Ruth Young in The Reflexive Universe Documentary

I have been lucky to have known Ruth Young for more than 40 years, as she and her husband were friends of my parents, Payson and Chiyo Loomis. I was even more fortunate to have served as her assistant in recent years when the IPA underwent transition to new leadership after Maj. General Indar Jit Rikhye’s retirement. I learned from her that what is needed in the field of international affairs today is training for mid-level practitioners in the special skills of communication and cooperation. I learned by her example that it is possible to surmount short term memory and hearing loss, handicaps that would have daunted a lesser person, if one’s intention is strong enough; and to retain a zest for life that was so keen in the days before she died that she was thinking about how to make next new thing happen.

I witnessed her rekindle a sense of purpose after Arthur Young, her third husband, died. I saw her rouse herself and move out of a retirement home at the age of 92 to accomplish her goal of insuring that colleagues and friends would carry word of a practical, inspirational theory to people for their upliftment and that of the planet.

Something Mrs. Young told me once rings in my memory at this moment. “You can learn so much about a person by watching the way he listens to another,” she said. Not only did Mrs. Young herself listen to others to find what needed to be done, but determining how comfortable another was within himself, she assessed immediately if he was available for a true exchange of ideas, for communication and cooperative action.