Activism and... Mentors

IssueMay 2012


ImageIf you ask who I feel has mentored me, the one obvious figure for me is the poet Waldo Williams, whose poetry is... how can I say it... Well, someone once asked me: ‘Which of his poems are the pacifist ones?’ And I answered: ‘They all are!’

They are all inspired by this notion that, as people, we can and must live in peace, and that is our natural state.

Some of the images he has are so striking that I challenge anyone not to be moved. In his great poem ‘Pa Beth Yw Dyn’ (‘What is Man?’), he asks the follow-up question: ‘What is it to live?’ And he answers that to live is ‘to find that great hall between the narrow walls’.

He challenges us to make room for everyone, for people of every persuasion, in our hearts.

Later on in that poem he asks: ‘What is it to arm a kingdom?’ As an answer, he says: ‘To put knives in the babies’ hands’. (Pause.)

Nobody in their right minds does that.

You realise that eventually not only will we hurt other people,but we will also hurt ourselves.

I’m also very proud of the long pacifist tradition we have in Wales. I remember being taken as a child to Tregaron, a small town in west Wales, to see the statue of Henry Richard, known as ‘the apostle of peace’, and being instilled with pride that he was Welsh and that was part of our tradition.

The work that he did single-handedly in the nineteenth century is a source of wonder.

You’re asking about me mentoring other people; I feel I’m too new to the game.

I’d rather not answer that question if you don’t mind!

Woman activist, 40s

Topics: Activism
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