By Lou Kraus
Posted November 28th, 2017
Several years ago, I had the opportunity to meet two gentlemen from the Akron Beacon Journal. They were both involved in a civility project and they included me in an article they were writing.
As time went on, I became friendly with the senior of the two and I remember one occasion in particular, when we were having breakfast and getting to know each other. We were talking about our college experiences and I asked why he decided to go into journalism. He said he wanted to change the world. It was pretty much the same reason that I had for going into social work. I thought for a minute and reminded him that because of the Internet, we now might actually be able to do just that.
My name is Louis H Kraus, and while you may think I am crazy, I really am not. I’m just one of those damned INFJ’s you may have heard about. This quote, I think, explains me best.
“INFJs tend to see helping others as their purpose in life, but while people with this personality type can be found engaging rescue efforts and doing charity work, their real passion is to get to the heart of the issue so that people need not be rescued at all.”
My undergraduate education is in Sociology and Psychology. Since then, I have developed an interest in what neuroscience is telling us about ourselves. I have a Master’s Degree in Social Work Administration and worked in Corrections and the Nursing Home business for years.
During the early 2000’s, several books were suggested to me that were written about how we should speak to each other. When the person who became my own personal verbal abuser confronted me, I realized how seriously one could be injured by evil speech and verbal abuse. Worse yet, I realized that I had, on occasion, verbally abused my wife. I decided to create Better Outcomes.
Better Outcomes was established to decrease the amount of negative, divisive uncivil communication in the world today. Our plan is to create communities to help people learn, practice and use more civil language. Better Outcomes’ goal is to spread understanding, co-operation and peace.
I believe that we need to begin with ourselves. We are all at fault and we have all hurt each other. For each one of us, we offer our 10 steps to diminish evil speech and verbal abuse.
However, there are people who use these words intentionally, for personal gain or vindictively to hurt someone. They may not be aware of the damage or they may not care.
When I started thinking about marketing Better Outcomes, I remembered a Candidates’ Night that I took part in with the Chamber of Commerce in Maple Heights, Ohio. I used the model we created there and it is now Better Outcomes’ Candidate Conversations. Politicians are very visible and affect us all; from the legislation and policies they author and enact, to the way they inspire our children and set the tone for how Americans are viewed around the world. I decided that this was the best place to start.
Candidate Conversations will start in late October. They will demonstrate that civil discourse is possible, even in politics! They will show how we can turn around the negativity and dysfunction of our government and really make America the shining light that it used to be.
By the time the elections end, on November 7, we hope to have the visibility we need to obtain the funding necessary to expand our program. If we do, we will be able to expand our program and add the Old Testament guidelines and nonviolent communication methods that will help everyone bring meaningful discussions back to our homes, to the workplace and to our loving relationships.
Better Outcomes’ Candidate Conversations are not politics as usual. Instead of a “debate” over issues, the Candidate Conversation introduces candidates for office through an interview-style process, lead by a mediator, instead of a moderator. This is uniquely important because the candidates are not permitted to use insults, falsehoods or slick rhetorical techniques to manipulate the audience or overpower the opponent. Instead, the mediator helps them talk about themselves; their own positive character traits, ethics and knowledge of policy to set themselves apart from the others as the most qualified choice for the voters. The only time candidates may refer to past mistakes is to tell us how they would do things differently.
Once the candidates have spoken to our standard, employment-like interview questions, the session continues with a simulation, which puts the candidates on a hypothetical “task force,” dealing with an issue or two that are part of their campaign platforms. The candidates spend 15 minutes working together to demonstrate their creative, collaborative leadership skills. At the end of the 15-minute session, we expect them to have produced an action-plan for addressing the issues.
To end the event, the audience becomes the interviewer and a short Q&A takes place.
WE WILL CHANGE THE SYSTEM!
If we want to save our democracy we need mediators to bring us together, not moderators, who oversee verbal battles. After the “circus of wicked words” of 2016, I am presenting the 2017 “got words?” campaign. This is a four city schedule of Candidate Conversations presenting the candidates for some of the most sought after municipal offices in our state.
The Candidate Conversations demonstrate the differences between Politicians and Statesmen. We change the context so that candidates have to earn our votes rationally and honestly, so we know realistically what to expect and so we can hold the office-holders accountable, one way or the other.
When the session is over, we will provide a transcript and HD video uploaded to our website, at least, one week before Election Day. This will give the voters who attended and those who did not, ample time to review our material so they can make an informed decision about casting their vote.
HOW YOU CAN HELP!
This project has taken a tremendous toll on my family and me. In the last 3 years I have had prostate surgery, my wife had a rotator cuff repair and my daughter threw her knee out dancing. My wife is now fighting something, which we have yet to identify, and as I mentioned before, my experience with verbal abuse still lingers.
Since I started this project, I have spent around $65,000. This is all I am able to put in. Now I must ask that you help carry my work forward. The locations we will use for the current round of events will be FREE, but the materials for the attendees, candidates, transcriptions and unedited video, marketing and promotional efforts, refreshments and staffing are all going to cost money.
We expect our costs for each event:
Print Materials = 90
Transcription Services = 350
HD Video Services = 500
Marketing & Promotional Materials = 2,000
Refreshments = 500
Staffing = 1,500
TOTAL = 4,940
We are in the process of scheduling the events, and we are not sure how many will actually materialize. We have two confirmed and several others in the works. Donations over and above what we actually have to spend, will allow us to growth Better Outcomes. Our plan is to first gear up for the 2018 elections, which are already causing us concern. Then we will turn our attention to the guidelines for “Evil Speech” and “Nonviolent Communication”.
In our future, I envision study groups in schools, support groups in people’s homes, seminars and presentations for bullying, verbal abuse and for the candidates we miss in our conversations. Please join us so we can spread our program around the world.
FOR YOUR SUPPORT, YOU WILL RECEIVE
We hope that all who visit our website will find something that will expand their understanding of themselves and others and make their lives better.
So far, we have started an Internet radio program that airs every 2 weeks. Anyone who is interested can participate in our quarterly board meetings. I want all of our supporters to be able to voice their ideas and concerns, so we can all help each other. We will publish the conference call phone number and instructions on our website shortly before the date of the meeting.
In the Old Testament the word for LIFE “Chai” reflects the number 18. We suggest donations in multiples of $18.00, because we believe the use of evil speech and verbal abuse can kill and if we can decrease it, we all will have better lives. For each donation, you will get a copy of the 10 steps, suitable for framing.
To all who donate $40 or more, we will send a non-purchasable Better Outcomes T-shirt.
To those who donate $200 or more, we will have a drawing to cover lodging/meal expenses for two people to the event and city of your choice. You will be a “featured guest” at the Candidate Conversation of your choosing. This drawing will take place on October 23.
In the last 3 years, I have attended several events where the main speaker was a former congressperson, party member, broadcaster, etc. Several times, one of the panel members stopped and told the crowd, something along lines of, “they could talk until they were blue in the face but unless WE, that is you and me, not them, took a stand and did something, nothing was going to change.” Remember, “Politicians won’t fix politics. We cannot wait; we must come together now, regardless of party affiliation, if we are going to fix anything.”
Our model can change the way people communicate and we are eager to share it with you.
Please call our office at (234) 571-9620, send an email to LHK@getbetteroutcomes.org, or call his cell phone (216) 832-4358, so we can arrange to talk.