In 1975 Ronald Higgins published The Seventh Enemy in the Observer magazine. Linking war, poverty and environmental degradation, his pioneering piece assessed some of society’s ills and offered solutions. Today, Mohamed Keshavjee, winner of the Gandhi-King-Ikeda Peace Award, reacted to the work from a contemporary point of view, paying homage to distinguished writer who died last year.
Keshavjee touched briefly on his personal history, highlighting exactly why Higgins’ work speaks to him as a person who has been both rejected and accepted in different societies. As an Asian man, he spoke of how fear spread through his community at the hands of Idi Amin, then expanded on the welcome he received in Pierre Trudeau’s Canada. What Keshavjee and Higgins share in values is a sense of openness on an international level as a panacea for societal difficulties.
Looking back at the social changes that inspired Higgins’ 1975 piece, Keshavjee unpicked the threat of unbridled population growth, nuclear weapons, scarcity of food and the depletion of natural resources. In the current decade, a lot of what Higgins said has come true, according to Keshavjee.
“The third world lies in our own backyard,” he quoted, expanding on Higgins’ blunt refusal to accept poverty in society. He explained that self-knowledge was not enough to ease global issues, in Higgins’ opinion. Instead, he argued that the world must take positive action. While Keshavjee expressed a fear that technological growth increasingly alienates us from our environment and our inner-self, he placed Higgins in the same category as Gandhi, arguing that individuals have a responsibility to embody the changes they’d like to see in society.
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