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Opinion

Letters to the Editor: Some compassion, and a lot of disdain, for homeless people

Nathaniel Ayers plays the violin on 4th Street in downtown Los Angeles in 2008.
Nathaniel Ayers plays the violin on 4th Street in downtown Los Angeles in 2008.
(Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: What an odd experience to first read Steve Lopez’s column, in which he talks about how classical music is the only thing that temporarily heals and frees his homeless friend Nathaniel Ayers from his “demons,” and then read in a separate article about 7-Eleven stores in Los Angeles playing classical music to drive away homeless people.

Beyond the aching loveliness of classical music as a salve juxtaposed with the oppressive sadness of the same sounds as a punishment, what makes me truly discouraged reading these two stories is the very different attitude of those involved: in the case of Lopez, real compassion for the homeless, and in the case of so many 7-Eleven operators, total disdain.

Karen Lindell, Beverly Hills

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To the editor: Lopez’s pieces touch me, and none more so than his columns on Nathaniel Ayers.

I was fortunate to grow up in a musical family, learn the cello and play in school orchestras. Some of my siblings followed music in their careers, and I followed art, with little time for playing. After the kids left home, I picked up the cello again.

But it was only because of Lopez’s pieces on Ayers that I was pushed to again do that thing I love so much, music.

Ayers breaks my heart too, Mr. Lopez. Keep pushing on for all the Nathaniels out there — it’s just the right thing to do, since he pushed me.

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James Severtson, Reseda

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To the editor: I was moved to tears for all the Nathaniels. Like him, I suffer from mental illness, but thanks to proper medical care, I am able to lead a normal and productive life.

Sometimes I wonder what life would be like if I was homeless.

Lopez’s column made me recall a time not long ago when I encountered a homeless man outside a McDonald’s. I asked if he was hungry; he said he was, so I bought him some food. His smile is still with me.

It’s reassuring for me to know thanks to a loving family, I know I will never be homeless.

Rachel Rachmond, Valencia


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