Article | Let’s make the world a little bit different

Who among us would be willing to lend a hand in making this world just a bit better? It sounds straightforward – do good deeds; volunteer for the elderly, animals, or refugees; make a donation; be kind to those around you… Yet, even the simplest gestures often prove challenging. Or they may seem insignificant in the face of the daily onslaught of suffering. In Ukraine, Gaza, and countless other unreported regions, war and profound hardship persist. Almost every day, we confront dire scenarios related to climate change. What more can we do? Where does one even begin? Is there any real value in starting?

When Studium Generale embarked on designing the For Love of the World festival, these became pivotal questions. How does one craft a festival that genuinely carries meaning? How can it make a true contribution?

In Jewish theology, there’s a well-known saying where a rabbi advises someone eager to save the world but uncertain of where to start. The rabbi contends that saving the world doesn’t require much. Even in a world rid of all evil, everything remains the same. ‘The room remains unchanged. Where the baby sleeps now, she will sleep in a world devoid of all evil. We wear the same clothes. Everything will be identical, just a tad different.’

The man listens, leaves, and grapples with the rabbi’s words for years. No one is too small to make a difference, and grand ideals of redemption and salvation aren’t necessary to make this world ‘a little different.’ What’s needed is sincere engagement with the world around us as we encounter it and a commitment to making it just a bit better. It may seem minuscule, but it certainly isn’t. Observing our surroundings in this way – say, looking at a peacefully sleeping baby – reveals the vulnerability of our world and how that vulnerability impels us to take action. Consider if we genuinely contemplated the suffering we could alleviate. What impact would it have on the clothes we wear, the metals in our phones, or the meat on our plates? What about our responsibility to victims of war and violence? The quote highlights possibilities – not in a preachy way and without moralizing. There’s something we can do to make it better.

Certainly, a festival alone won’t bring about significant change. However, it can serve as a showcase. The quote tells us that to change the world, we must first closely examine its current state – not an idealized version. It’s a pragmatic approach: What can we do now? How can we make it a bit better? This approach aligns well with a university of technology, where “making” and “improving” are foundational concepts and the pursuit of impact for a better society is a core value. It introduces an important element: to make the world a little better, we must genuinely care about it. Engineers, designers, and architects shape the world, demanding authentic concern for people and nature – for instance, for sleeping babies. That’s our primary task, not to create something grand.

At For Love of the World, we weave together technology, philosophy, art, and science. These disciplines can certainly function independently, but they mutually enhance one another. Technology learns from philosophy and art to observe the world more keenly and employ imagination. Philosophy and art, in turn, learn from technology the value of experimentation, creation, and improvement. The festival offers attendees not just enlightening lectures but also hands-on creative activities, from poetry sessions to screen printing. Because changing the world starts with ourselves, and it doesn’t demand grand gestures – just a genuine desire to do things a little differently. So, come one, come all, and let’s do it at FLOTW.