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Letters to the Editor: We’ve stopped listening and started yelling at each other. Here’s why

Protest in Huntington Beach
Pro-Trump counterprotesters gather near Black Lives Matter demonstrators in Huntington Beach on June 6.
(Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: Ella Taylor’s piece on people’s declining ability to accept nuance was right on the money and discussed something I’ve been ranting about for years. While social media and the lack of civics education contribute to this problem, cable news and talk radio fuel the fire too.

The strident pundits arguing on 24-hour cable news leave little room for common sense or middle ground. The screens are full of opinion makers, demonizing the other side.

Eat a diet of this for 20 years, and people lose their appetite for nuance, listening and compassion.

Jennifer Childs, Los Angeles

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To the editor: When I worked with young children, I remember many very emotional toddlers who would instantly and sometimes violently get upset. After active listening, I would say in a normal, slow voice, “That was a surprise.”

If the child stayed stuck in overdrive I would ask, “Is your hurt as big as a watermelon or maybe the size of a pea?” That would usually dial things down to a point where we could discuss ways to feel better.

Children’s needs are immediate, intense and personal, and learning how to regulate them takes time and practice. I fear that many adults have lost this ability and do not know how to listen to another person.

Taylor is correct that our education system is in trouble. We need to spend less time revamping curriculum and more time teaching children how to be likable, capable people who can critically think. They will continue to learn the skills needed to be a productive adult, but most important they will be able to delay gratification, regulate their strong feelings and really listen to others.

Genie Saffren, Los Angeles

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To the editor: The author writes about the skill of considering conflicting ideas while shaping opinions and actions.

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On my first day at Pasadena City College in 1969, my English 101 teacher required us to memorize a quote that said something to the effect of, “A learned person is one who can entertain all ideas and concepts without hostility.”

My memory may have the writer or the exact wording wrong, but my appreciation of nuance has stayed with me to this day.

Darlene Moses Olympius, Yorba Linda


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