As I’ve written about before, solving the problems of bullying depends on the society’s tolerance for abusive interaction. My good friend and colleague, Dawn Menken, psychotherapist and conflict resolution educator, wrote this thoughtful piece for the Oregonian last week. She raises many thought-provoking questions, and asks us to look at how we define bullying. Until we look closely at our tolerance for certain behaviors, we won’t make headway into the problem of bullying.

Cultural tolerance is one part of the problem of bullying. But another is learning how to have healthy and productive conflict. There really is such a thing as a “good fight.” In fact, diversity of opinion, incompatibility of worldviews, and clashes of representational systems increase intelligence. Barbara Strauch, author of The Secret Life of the Grown-Up Brain said in a recent interview in the New York Times:

One of the most intriguing findings [about maintaining healthy brain functioning] is that if you talk to people who disagree with you, that helps your brain wake up and refine your arguments and shake up the cognitive egg, which is what you want to do.