Julyan Davey
Musings on Life, Philosophy and Society

The Phoenix Rises - New Stories for Humanity

The Phoenix Project

Human civilisation is approaching a breaking point. We face a mounting climate and ecological catastrophe, a worldwide rise in nationalism and a growth-based economy that drives increasingly deep inequality and personal alienation. We need change, and fast.

Unfortunately, most of our attempts at change happen only at a surface level. While it’s great to rid the world of plastic straws, the roots of the problems we face go so much deeper. They stem directly from our values, beliefs and behaviours, which together create our global operating system. If we keep obsessing over consumption, economic growth and individual success then we’re not going to make the changes needed for humanity to survive the 21st century.

So to confront the causes of today’s challenges, and not their symptoms, we need to rework our individual and collective ways of thinking, relating to, and understanding the world. From there we can build radically different cultural, political and economic institutions, allowing a new operating system for life on planet Earth to emerge. Our metaphor for this collective, global transformation is the Phoenix, the bird whose death is only a precursor to a new birth.

We need a global phoenix, a new operating system, to rise from the ashes of the current operating system, which lies dying all around us. In areas of life as diverse as science, society and spirituality something is already stirring. The seeds of the Phoenix are already out there. We actually have all the tools and resources we need to solve our pressing challenges. We just need to put the pieces together in an accessible, realistic vision and share it with the world — then we can start to build it.

So the Phoenix Project aims to share, develop and explore the ideas, philosophies and practices of the new operating system, as well as the stories of the people co-creating it. Change will only happen if we can spread their messages to enough people. So we are building a place to spread articles, resources, books, organisations, and podcasts for a new world — and to create a community of conversations around them.

We started our journey with the question: “What needs to change to confront today’s challenges?”. We captured our initial answers in the post Exponential Altruism, which was our idea for harnessing the incredible power of small groups driven by a vision of change and contribution. This investigation led us into months of conversations and investigation — personal and philosophical, scientific and spiritual. And now we want to bring other people — yes, you! — into this ongoing process of questioning ourselves, one another, and reality itself. Not to suggest a final set of answers or solutions, but to begin to share and develop ideas for a more harmonious, creative and interesting world.

Together, we hope these ideas will come to form a radically new worldview — a new story for humanity.

New Stories

We can’t escape living within a worldview, a story, of one sort or another. Those stories affect everything in our lives, from our science to society to spirituality. The current operating system is dying because it takes certain stories — like materialism, individualism, and competition — as absolute and eternal truths. Now this doesn’t mean that we should abandon these perspectives, but rather realise that they are not set in stone, leaving us free to choose, play with and create new systems that work better for us as people and our planet.

You might think this all sounds naive, idealistic, or downright irrelevant — what does my personal worldview have to do with climate change? Well, what we fail to realise is how much our worldview influences our behaviour — and that our behaviour, collectively, creates many of the crises we face. With a new worldview maybe we can build a new, better way of living on planet earth. Now this might sound like a hippie vision if ever there was one. But if humanity is to survive the twenty first century, nothing short of a hippie vision will do. There are so many exciting transformative projects springing up all over the globe that give us a belief in “the more beautiful world our heart knows is possible”. Our pressing and important task is to bring those possibilities, those potentials, into public consciousness and eventually make them our reality.

We can live our lives as cells in the dying phoenix, whose flames are beginning to touch every being on Earth, or we can take part in the new one and nurture the beginnings of a new world.

Let’s do it!