Empathy over Opinion

Positive Futures is a new, multi-day festival in Innsbruck that focuses on Global Music, free of genre and gender boundaries, highlighting more than 40 underrepresented artists outside the mainstream. It will be an intercultural festival of equality and diversity in many inspiring, outrageous and adventurous forms of expression, that takes place in 6 different venues.

Empathy over Opinion, Symbiosis over Hot Takes – a few thoughts on the festival from moderator Martin Fritz

Like so many others, procrastination is not alien to me either, i.e. procrastination is even more pleasant and sensible, but is currently perceived as a costly waste of time. If this activity involves writing texts on the computer, as I often do, I tend to end up on the Internet, where I then spend hours reading random articles.

Today, for example, while the umpteenth heat wave of the year was raging outside, it was one about biologist Lynn Margulis, who has proposed two interesting theories: the endosymbiont theory and the Gaia hypothesis. The terms sound complicated, but they express assumptions that are relatively easy to understand: endosymbiosis means that we as living beings with a cell nucleus may have emerged from the merger of different microorganisms that previously lived separately, which is to the advantage of everyone involved. And the Gaia Hypothesis holds that all living beings on Earth are so interdependent and so closely and inextricably intertwined in their readings that all life on Earth should reasonably be viewed as one being that may or may not thrive together. So, according to Margulis, at the smallest and the largest level, life only works through mutual support and caring for one another.

Or I end up procrastinating on so-called social networks, and I see people there, who are called my friends and followees, arguing about an endless flow of the same things over and over again. What people have opinions about! Who is allowed or should play which cartoon character in a live-action film, who is allowed to use which toilet, who has to eat how much schnitzel, how bad it is that who is being made unemployed by which AI, who is allowed to draw attention to the climate catastrophe when and in what way, whether drag queens should be allowed to read stories or practice their art form, which young people should be allowed to play in which school sports team, which talk show guest should be allowed to say what else – there is no debate that is too made up and irrelevant and pointless.

It seems like every day a new topic is chosen, on which there can only be exactly two points of view (for or against!), and on which everyone posts their hot takes and long reads (which hardly anyone ever reads), to which everyone reacts, whereupon everyone reacts to these reactions again, until the next thing comes up the next day. And, of course, the outrage, counter-outrage and counter-counter-outrage build up so quickly that both camps, with their a priori fixed judgments, can remain convinced that the other is not right. It all always started with the fact that the others didn’t want to see that I was right!

And yet it is a real dilemma. Because when a politician or journalist says something publicly that painfully shifts the scope of what can be said, how do you react? Especially when I know that the contradiction gives the issue the attention it was originally intended to attract? When are there really urgent problems that are worth talking about? Where, as I write this, an unprecedented storm is sweeping over Innsbruck, which shows the urgency of the climate catastrophe more impressively than any tweet, where the news also reads about right-wing extremists hoarding weapons, about people who need protection and are not getting it.

But in addition to allowing nonsense debates to be imposed on you and not letting the wrong thing go unchallenged, there is a third thing: simply talk about the good yourself and do the good. And that can also mean: listening, being open, sometimes not having an opinion, but getting to know other perspectives, exchanging ideas. Exactly what Positive Futures is aiming for. Just as the exciting music has not always emerged from insisting on one’s own point of view and being right, but from disregarding perceived, metaphorical and very real limits, from dissolving, resolving and solving differently, from exchange, from the cooperation of different people and from being curious; how migration and music, how globality and genres are related; how a concert can act as a shared experience, as social interaction – the festival’s curators can explain all of this in detail much better than I can, and the festival itself will be the best possible explanation for all of this.

And maybe my procrastination, my reading of biologists who write about our existential dependency on each other, our inseparable connection, was – as so often – not so far removed from the matter after all. Perhaps this perspective also leads to a possibility of how we can get from arguing to talking to one another, from procrastinating to action, from writing or reading the program booklet and accompanying texts to positive futures.

The Positive Futures Festival is planned and implemented according to the criteria of Green Events Tirol basic. All events are barrier-free accessible.

Your contribution: Environment-friendly travel for a positive future. All venues can be reached by public transport and bicycle parking spaces are available.

Free admission for everyone to the concerts on Fri. 06.10.23 from 4.00 p.m. to 7.00 p.m. at Treibhaus Volksgarten. Discounts apply to all visitors under the age of 25 as part of advance sales. Free access to all events for holders of the Culture Pass Hunger for Art and Culture. Information on this can be found at https://www.hungeraufkunstundkultur.at .

Our catering for musicians and team consists of vegetarian and vegan food, which we procure locally and regionally as much as possible. Only reusable bottles, cutlery and cups are used for catering and serving.

If you have any questions about accessibility or anything else, please contact Martin Bleicher, info@positive-futures.at or call +43-664-5298718.


Die Bäckerei

Dreiheiligenstraße 21a


Angerzellgasse 8


Museumstraße 31


Viaduktbögen 18-20


Viaduktbogen 38

St. Bartlmä, Halle 6

St. Bartlmä 3