Bruce Kent has died. How can this be?
As Baroness Helena Kennedy QC said, “He was one of the finest human beings I have ever met. Kate Hudson, General Secretary of CND, affirmed, “he was a leader of our movement beyond compare.”
Bruce possessed an uncanny ability to express his opposition to and revulsion of nuclear weapons in a very simple way. For example: nuclear deterrence itself depends on a willingness to commit mass murder… And a nuclear weapon is a gun which shoots both ways… in fact, the beginning of the end of the world.
You can’t argue with that. I have often used the latter when defending our opposition to nuclear weapons. Thanks Bruce. It so often alters opinions.
Nearly forty years ago, Bruce came to speak to our local peace group. He needed some refreshment before his evening talk. So, he came to our house for tea! I remember feeling nervous about providing for our distinguished guest. I had no need, of course. Bruce was the epitome of warmth, kindness and charm. He showed a genuine interest in our young children. He was not one to regale us with his countless achievements. He admired my nasturtiums and I potted some up for him to take home.
Years later, on two occasions, my son and daughter separately came across him by chance. Will, sitting next to him on the London Tube and Kate, as a student in Liverpool. Again, he engaged them in conversation (and said that he remembered the nasturtiums!) and was eager to learn about their lives. Not a smidgeon of self-importance.
The Independent Catholic News reports that one of Bruce’s heroes was Franz Jagerstatter, an Austrian of towering moral strength during Nazi Germany. Terrence Malick’s exceptional film A Hidden Life features the story of Franz and his ultimate sacrifice. Bruce was one of these ‘heroes’, with off the scale human virtues, although I know that he would not have accepted such praise.
Bruce will be so missed by our campaign. What a role model for us to try to emulate! Daughter Kate told me that she felt like ‘ the dark side was winning’ when she read the sad news of Bruce’s death. But no, Kate, we will go from strength to strength, emboldened by Bruce’s passionate commitment. In that sense, his influence will never die.
I feel so highly honoured to have met him.