Conversación civilizada

PARIS – ¿Qué significa ser “civilizado”? Obviamente, ser altamente educado, usar corbata, comer con tenedor o cortarse las uñas una vez por semana no es suficiente. Todos sabemos que ser “civilizado” de esta manera formal no impide que las personas se comporten como bárbaros. En todas partes y en todo momento, ser civilizado significa ser capaz de reconocer y aceptar la humanidad de los demás, a pesar de sus diferentes modos de vida.

Esto puede parecer un punto obvio, pero no se lo acepta de manera universal. La idea de diálogo entre las civilizaciones normalmente recibe buena prensa, pero a veces también es objeto de burla. La conclusión del reciente ensayo de Elie Barnavi Les religions meurtrières (“Las religiones asesinas”) se titula “Contra el diálogo de las civilizaciones”. Su argumento es implacable: “Existe civilización por un lado y barbarie por otro. No existe diálogo posible entre ambas”.

Pero si analizamos detenidamente esta línea de argumentación, la falla de la hipótesis de Barnavi resulta evidente de inmediato. El significado de las palabras civilización y cultura es muy diferente cuando se las utiliza en sus formas singular y plural. Culturas (plural) son los modos de vida abrazados por diversos grupos humanos, y abarcan todo lo que sus miembros tienen en común: idioma, religión, estructuras familiares, dieta, vestimenta y demás. En este sentido, “cultura” es una categoría descriptiva, sin ningún juicio de valor.

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