Le dialogue entre les cultures

PARIS – Que veut dire être "civilisé" ? De toute évidence, être bien éduqué, porter une cravate, manger avec une fourchette ou couper ses ongles une fois par semaine  n'y suffit pas. Nous savons tous qu'être "civilisé" au sens formel du terme n'empêche pas de se comporter comme un barbare. Partout et de tout temps, être civilisé a signifié et signifie être capable de reconnaître et d'accepter l'humanité d'autrui, au-delà des différences de mode de vie.

Ce point de vue semble évident, mais il n'est pas universellement accepté. L'idée de dialogue entre les civilisations est généralement bien accueillie, mais il arrive qu'elle ne suscite que des ricanements. La conclusion du récent essai d'Elie Barnavi, Les religions meurtrières, s'intitule Contre le dialogue des civilisations . Son idée est implacable : D'un coté il y a la civilisation et de l'autre la barbarie. Aucun dialogue n'est possible entre l'une et l'autre.

Mais si on examine cette idée de plus prés, l'erreur saute aux yeux. Les mots civilisation et culture n'ont pas du tout le même sens selon qu'on les emploie au singulier ou au pluriel. Le mot cultures (au pluriel) se rapporte aux modes de vie des différents groupes humains. Il englobe tout ce que leurs membres ont en commun : la langue, la religion, la structure familiale, la manière de s'alimenter et de s'habiller, etc. En ce sens, c'est une catégorie descriptive, sans valeur de jugement.

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