Put and end to the Starbucks philosophy of efficiency that rules – and ruins us – says Mark Rylance
Our economic plight – and that “dreadful word efficiency” -- are dominating people’s lives to a dangerous degree. And the continual search for new achievements is ruining our society because it means we are losing contact with nature.
That was the essence of an urgent message – and a mission for the future -- that came from Mark Rylance, the legendary actor and director at Marlborough town hall on Tuesday.
He was the star turn at an Open Day held by Wiltshire CPRE under the banner Protect Wiltshire during which the 53-year-old supporter of Survival International pinpointed the dangers of a world without nature.
And he highlighted it by declaring: “Each of us has an indigenous soul, a indigenous nature, your county has an indigenous nature, your town is formed for each of us. And that’s complete counter-culture now.
“No self-respecting chief executive wants a world now where everyone has a different desire. They want a world where everyone wants a Starbucks cup of coffee.
“And if everyone just wanted it with milk and not all the other things they offer, then they would be even happier.”
And he added: “My life at the moment is dominated by concerns about my efficiency. I have been listening to the news for so many years now.
“And if I came and talked to one of you, and if 50 seconds of the 60 seconds of each minute you talked about your economic problems, your debts, your investments, I would sooner be talking to someone else.
“I mean where in the media can you go without being told this is the most important thing that we have to look at and listen to. I feel there is so much more to the quality of life than those things.”
Introduced by the Lord-Lieutenant of Wiltshire, Sarah Troughton, who is CPRE Wiltshire’s president, Mr Rylance read telling extracts of his own collection of books about the parlous state of the world and the environment.
He referred to one of them and explained: “It is about the on-going theft of common culture, of common lands, from the waterways to the markets in our towns, to the pubs and the common activities which are being increasingly moved into private hands.
“And all under the rule of this dreadful word efficiency.
“The idea of civilisation as some kind of mountain we’re climbing separates us further and further from what we call nature and the countryside. This idea of man’s manifest destiny has come to the point of saying maybe we’ve really gone high enough.
“May be the deeper question is that now is the time for us to go down, to go down towards the earth instead high towards the sky, heading for the stars.”
As a City boy, an outsider as far as Wiltshire was concerned, he was linked by the fact that his mother was a passionate amateur archaeologists who worked at Stonehenge before it was fenced off.
“I have travelled to many places in the world but I have found few places that have the justification to be called a sacred paradise as is your Wiltshire,” he said.
“While my mother’s stuff was about Stonehenge, I know that is but the tip of the iceberg. I know there are so many places under hedgerows, under construction and in other places that are a powerful expression of nature’s living past and the many cultures and societies that have lived in this county and who have celebrated this county in so many ways.”
More recently he had travelled to see Wiltshire crop circles, a mysterious phenomenon that was like science fiction and exposed the nature of the land. His wife too had told him of a field at Avebury left fallow by the farmer that was so polluted it no longer attracted animals and insects – or any crops.
“What was being done to the soil was responsible,” he explained. “And it connected my mind with the apostle who said it was time we looked down at what is happening beneath us, instead of always aiming for the stars.”
Answering questions, he said there was an enormous hunger among young people for wildness, for something that wasn’t controlled.
“The revelations last week thanks to this American whistle-blower, a young person by the way, is an example that there was some very wonderful young people out there,” he said.
“One can see that there’s almost no place one can go where you are not spied on by a government.”
He praised the painstaking work of CPRE towards changing people’s psychological thinking “and making us aware of the mythologies that are deeply wired into us”, pointing out:
“I believe passionately in the small steps that are being made and why they need to continue.
“I see you as warriors, I suppose, in a way that comes from my imaginative nature as an actor. But very, very prudent and careful. Yours is a long struggle.”
|We must work together to protect “fabulous” Wiltshire says the Mayor
Wiltshire is a “hidden treasure” in Britain but only by working together can it be protected, Marlborough’s Mayor, Councillor Guy Loosmore, told the CPRE’s open day at the town hall on Tuesday.
Welcoming the organisation and its supporters seeking to Protect Wiltshire, he told them: “Marlborough, like all the other towns in Wiltshire, has its own unique identity. And we as a council are looking to open our links with the people in the town and with those in the surrounding area.
“I believe we can work together across all the boundaries, whether it is CPRE, Areas of National Outstanding Beauty, Wiltshire Council and others. The more we can achieve as a community, that for me is absolutely paramount.
“We live in a time of huge change, vast change, and we need to work at a local level. So it is good this afternoon that we are also going to learn something about localism and how that can empower us at this level to make things happen.
“Clearly there are many issues that need to be resolved. But if we can work collectively together than these things can be overcome. And as a county we can actually be proud of what we have.”
And the Mayor added: “Wiltshire is a fabulous county, it is a county which is a hidden treasure in this country. People need to recognise that and businesses need to recognise the quality of life that this county has to offer.
“As a town council we are but a small cog. We have limited resources in terms of what we can do on a day to day basis. But out heart and emotional soul is very much about making us as big a voice as possible.
“Historically, Marlborough has huge history attached to it. Not only is that of interest to local people but also nationally and internationally. Not to mention Stonehenge, not to mention the Avebury Circle, there are so many things here to celebrate.
“The importance that we do that in the future is absolutely paramount. So I welcome CPRE to Marlborough, its fabulous to have you here this afternoon, I look forward to working with you and see how we can move things forward in this town and the whole of the county.”