Pizza and the meaning of life

David Moe
Sun City, Calif.

Photo: David Moe Students and community members meet at San Jacinto Community College for pizza and deep thoughts.

Photo: David Moe
Students and community members meet at San Jacinto Community College for pizza and deep thoughts.

“Pizza and the meaning of life” is an outreach program at San Jacinto Community College in Menifee, California, sponsored by Faith Lutheran Church of Sun City, a program my wife and I have participated in the past two years. Every Friday from noon to 2:00 p.m., we bring several pizzas to campus and conduct a discussion group on life and death issues for students. The group also includes some elderly members of our church, and the students seem to enjoy having us older folks present.

San Jacinto is a two-year community college with no dorms, so it is a commuter college where students have little opportunity for interaction with other students. This event gives them an opportunity to discuss issues with other students and some older folks too, so we develop a sense of community in which bonds are established. We have students with a variety of religious backgrounds, so we respect one another and give everyone an opportunity to speak their minds without judgment.

The college has over 1,000 veterans, so they have a veteran’s resource center on campus and several older veterans have come to our discussion group and added a lot to our conversations. The veterans have asked for some counseling services, as they do not have a chaplain at present. Many of them are struggling with moral and religious issues, like “Why was I permitted to live, when so many of my friends were killed?” or “How do I resolve my bombing of villages that I knew had women and children?”

I give this college credit for having a veteran’s resource center where they can come and share their experiences, but I wish more college campuses had more resources for veterans, who are not only trying to adjust to civilian life, but are struggling with so many moral and religious issues. They have sacrificed so much for us; I believe we need to make some sacrifices for them. When I got out of the Navy and went back to college, it was a big adjustment for me and I didn’t even come out of a combat environment, so I can only imagine how difficult it is for our modern-day veterans. Many of these young men and women are not physically wounded, but many are mentally wounded and these wounds may be more difficult to heal. For example, many of our “street people” today are veterans, struggling to make an adjustment to civilian life. Even if you don’t agree with our past government decisions, I hope you don’t blame our veterans, who have done what they have been asked to do.

This article originally appeared in the Sept. 5, 2014 issue of the Norwegian American Weekly.

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The Norwegian American is North America's oldest and only Norwegian newspaper, published since May 17, 1889.