15 October 2019 – Helen Drewery

Disagreeing respectfully

Finding a better way than “I'm right, you're stupid and evil”

Much of our public discourse is characterised with the hostilities of ‘us’ and ‘them’ and in tones of anger and bitterness. In many of the areas of important public debate, we rush to characterise others as our moral or intellectual inferiors, when in fact it is just that they hold a different point of view to our own. And with many views aired on social media, we end up grouped with people of like views. When we interact in the digital world with those who hold different views to our own, it too often erupts into hot-heated outbursts that might not have happened with the moderating influence of talking face-to-face.

Can we find a better way than “I'm right, you're stupid and evil”?

Helen Drewery

Helen Drewery For many years Helen Drewery worked in Friends House, the Quaker offices in London, where she had oversight of the many Quaker managed projects working to build peace in troubled parts of the world. She was also involved with Quaker work at the UN. Recently retired, she brings this wealth of experience to think globally about the art of disagreeing respectfully.


Some links from the Quakers, suggested by Helen:

  • Alternatives to Violence Project. "Whether you have experienced conflict in the family, on the streets, in your workplace or somewhere else, an AVP workshop help you learn how to deal with it better."
  • Peace Education. "Peace education helps children and young people develop the skills and understanding we all need to be peacemakers. Our work aims to help schools and young people engage with peace education."
  • Peacebuilding in East Africa. "We work together with local partners in Rwanda, Kenya and Burundi to build a positive, nonviolent grassroots peace movement. Our Turning the Tide programme helps local activists to stand up for social justice and peace."
  • Quaker United Nations Office