Valentine’s Day Special: A Profile in Activism


Stone memorial to civilians killed in war. Courtesy of the Peace Abbey.

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:



tolerating struggle,

empathy & compassion,



and a purpose-driven life.

In honor of Valentine’s Day, 2018, I want to honor one man who exemplifies all those characteristics: Lewis Randa, founder of the Life Experience School  and the Peace Abbey .

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.

To learn more about a purpose-driven life, just watch this inspiring video,  and add meaning to your own life by joining Lewis’s peace-seeking letter-writing campaign to Chairman Kim Jung-un.


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3 Responses to Valentine’s Day Special: A Profile in Activism

  1. Thank you for the inspirational summary of the life and work of Lewis Randa. He embodies the notion that the meaning of life is learning and service. He is thus truly what Mahayana Buddhism calls a bodhisattva: like the Dalai Lama, a champion of world peace, egalitarian economics, ecological sanity, animal rights, lifelong education, and interfaith harmony. Lewis is a brave, gentle, humble soul, very much in the fashion of Howard Zinn (one of the many recipients of The Peace Abbey Courage of Conscience Award). Lewis is the most creative individual that I know, and his life itself is a work of art, pointing to The Peaceable Kingdom. His wife and children are as dedicated as he is to creating a world of peace and beauty for all; and the students of The Life Experience School made (and still make) The Peace Abbey legacy one of America’s most inspiring treasures. I especially enjoyed the video (made available in the last paragraph, and which I consequently posted on Facebook). Thanks again for honoring Lewis and his life’s work with this succinct and encouraging post. If philosophy is the journey from the love of wisdom to the wisdom of love, then Lewis is indeed a philosopher in the truest sense of the word: earthy, simple, humble, courageous, and creative; daily manifesting the truth that one’s greatest joy comes in being of service to others. His Franciscan/Quaker spirituality embodies the message of the Dalai Lama: What the world needs now is “a common religion of kindness.” Hence your post is a perfect Valentine, well timed for what Thomas Paine once called “the times that try men’s souls.”

  2. Dot Walsh says:

    You said it all Stefan! Lewis is all of that and more and the perfect example of LOVE for all of life both earth and sentient beings.

  3. barbara says:

    The message in today’s post underlines the fact that true fulfillment in life can be achieved by coming to the rescue of those who need assistance most desperately. Despite the seriousness of this topic, I found myself humming the tune of an old favorite song.

    What the world needs now is love, sweet love
    It’s the only thing that there’s just too little of
    What the world needs now is love, sweet love,
    No not just for some but for everyone.

    The last line embodies the significance of this perfect valentine for all of mankind.

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