Shannon Tito

Shannon Tito

Life is hard, then you die

Cloverdale Library's Philosophers’ Café to tackle meaning of life

“Life is hard. Then you die. Then the worms eat you. Be grateful it happens in that order,” said David Gerrold. Is that all there is?

SFU’s Philosophers’ Café series has been around for several years, but it only just started up here in Cloverdale at the Public Library. Last month we had our launch and all participants enjoyed a lively conversation on the topic of homelessness.

The coffee pot will be full again on Tuesday, March 21, starting at 7 p.m. The topic this time?  In a nutshell:  the meaning of life. Whatever you think of that choice, one thing is clear. There is no way you could accuse moderator Shannon Tito of picking an easy, softball topic.

In fact, I think it is the perfect topic for a Philosophers’ Café – one that is sure to raise a lot of different passions and perspectives, which is exactly what comes to mind when one thinks Philosophers’ Café.

Aside from a short phone call, I was only able to chat with Shannon via email, but I discovered he has a fascinating personal history.

“I was born in Uganda, East Africa and found myself and some of my family members in exile (1971) in Kenya because of the political situation in Uganda,” he said.

“I was a UN registered refugee in Kenya for about three years before I was lucky enough to be sponsored by a Canadian couple from Vancouver,” he said. “I arrived in Vancouver in the early ’80s and embarked straight away at completing my high school education, which was interrupted by the war in my homeland.”

After high school, Shannon completed degrees in Geography and Psychology and then did a Bachelor’s of Education in elementary education at the University of British Columbia. He currently works at Adams Road Elementary School in Cloverdale, and in 2013 he defended his doctoral dissertation in the field of educational leadership K-12 at Simon Fraser University.

Shannon has also been involved closely with issues of social justice and served for six years as a Facilitator for BCTF’s Peace and Social Justice Programs. In his spare time, he plays bass guitar in a band and enjoys reading, writing and travelling.

When I asked him how he got involved with the Café, Shannon said, “I was asked by my friend…SFU Professor Magido Zola to moderate one of the Philosophers’ Café in Surrey.”

“He also asked me if I could think of a topic for the café. At the time, I was reading some spiritual/philosophical writings of Apostle Paul in the New Testament. I immediately thought that it would be interesting to tackle the enduring question of our human existence,” said Shannon.

Since this is Shannon’s first time as a moderator, I asked him what he thought he could expect.  “I hope that the discussions will find a natural progression and flow,” he said. “I don’t want to suppress anyone’s thought or ideas by imposing my own perceptions or world view. However, I do hope that as we discuss the topic, ideas and views that seem plausible or convincing should not be ignored.”

I hope to see you out at Cloverdale Library on March 21 from 7 to 8:30 p.m., and I wish to thank all participants and all our moderators who volunteer their time to be here. See you then!

Upcoming cafés at Cloverdale Library

  • “Life is hard. Then you die.” Shannon Tito, Tuesday, March 21 @ 7 p.m.
  • Why do we enjoy professional sporting events? Sukhmani Gill, Thursday, Apr. 20 @ 7 p.m.
  • How has Easter been secularized? Abbie Boer,  Monday, May 8 @ 1 p.m.
  • What is cultural appropriation? Sukhmani Gill, Monday, June 5 @ 1 p.m.

For more information, visit:

Information Services Librarian Paul MacDonell writes on the people and events of Cloverdale Library.


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