by Kathie MM
In a chart in a recent post entitled 100 Living Peace and Justice Leaders, the characteristics attributed to peace and justice leaders and models included:
empathy & compassion,
and a purpose-driven life.
Here are brief examples of each of those characteristics in Lewis’s life:
Nonviolence: Lewis explains, “Martin Luther King said, ‘If you haven’t found something worth dying for you’re not fit to live.’ Non-violence is something I’d be willing to die for. I don’t torture myself over whether I’ve done a good job or bad job.” (verdict:superb job)
Inspiration: From the founding of The Life Experience School for special needs children and young adults in 1972 (his alternative service as a conscientious objector during the Vietnam War) to his current nonviolent resistance to any governmental move to use nuclear weapons against North Korea, Lewis has inspired multitudes.
Tolerating struggle: The nonviolent civil resistance in which Lewis has engaged his entire life has consistently demanded tolerating struggle; add to that his engagement in the stone walk— the project involving hauling a one-ton granite stone memorializing civilians 500 miles in the US, many miles in Ireland, and then later, under the able leadership of Dot Walsh, substantial distances in Japan and Korea.
Empathy & compassion: Because of empathy with and compassion for all living creatures, nonhuman as well as human, Lewis is a vegetarian—as is the rest of his family—and a proponent of animal rights (You just have to read Emily the cow’s story!)
Courage: Being a conscientious objector in wartime, promoting conscientious objection to war, advocating for interfaith harmony in a nation becoming increasing intolerant of non-Christian faiths, and his willingness to speak out for peace and peacemakers to a government embroiled in violence testifies to his courage.