Editor’s Note: The essay below was written in 2001 and appears in the self-published book, Through Our Eyes: A Tapestry of Words and Images in Response to September 11. Printed and distributed in 2002, the book was the result of an independent, volunteer documentary project organized by a journalist and several friends. The author’s bio was written in 2002 and has not been updated.
Jason Langrish is an ambitious and witty 30-year-old with an easygoing spirit. He was born on Vancouver Island, Canada, and grew up in the Okanogan Valley. He comes from a family of five. Today, Jason lives in Brussels, Belgium, where he’s launched his own consultancy in the areas of international trade, investment and public affairs. In this capacity, he is presently serving as director adjoint of the Canada Europe Round Table for Business in Brussels. When terrorists attacked America, he was in his office. He later watched the events unfold on TV in a bar. He sent the following letter in October.
My thoughts on the events of the past while? First thing that comes to mind now is probably private property rights. Strange possibly, but with them, many problems would be solved.
Land reforms in poorer countries provide the poorest sections of society the opportunity to own something permanent: land and housing. This provides security, a sense of worth and an extension of one’s self. Additionally, it provides for risk and freedom to progress. If one owns property, they are much more likely to want to release both their latent capital and the latent capital contained in the property. In turn, this allows for the creation of wealth – going beyond subsistence existence and product development.
Think of the average Westerner: They leverage their mortgages to obtain a wide range of things, from education to automobiles. Analogies can be drawn to this at all levels. Additionally, landownership gives one both a stake and a voice – essentially, facilitating the development of democracy. It’s funny, because Westerners learned this rule several hundred years ago, and their society has flourished because of it.
Basically, we have not resisted modernising. Those cultures that have not had a Reformation or Enlightenment, as examples, have struggled with modernity, sticking to traditions that have caused them to lose ground in terms of material prosperity, giving rise to frustration, anger and genuine disenchantment with the unbalanced relationship between their culture and the West. Once this balance gets too out of whack, we get results like September 11.
We were surprised by the scale, audacity and spectacle of it all, but we shouldn’t have been surprised that something happened. The writing has been on the wall for some time now. In a sense, the West has failed to work with those areas that have truly fallen behind in this entire modernisation process. In the end, the countries that are the exact opposite of success become so rotten that they acquire negative power. We must strive toward not the elimination of poverty tension, necessarily, but we must eliminate negative power, as it is basically a societal cancer that forces us to fight.