Dishonesty tends to spread throughout the brain, is seldom just localized.
Integrity is not some abstract concept. It, first of all, means to try not to say anything besides the truth as you know it. The reason for that is not an addiction to factuality but rather a commitment to goodness. That means that you won’t say ‘the truth’ if that would bring needless suffering (evil). And when you can’t say the truth, for instance, when someone confided in you, you try to change the subject or run away rather than lie. Or you say: “S/he didn’t appoint me her/his spokesperson; ask him/her.”
Being trustworthy is not just a principle. The only way to do it is to totally be in love with reality. That means that habitual liars abhor you. Don’t worry, you abhor them too. Those are not people fond of lying. Rather, being upfront doesn’t have such a priority with them. This can be a cultural thing. In some cultures, and for some people, honesty is of lower importance than preserving honor, being pleasant, being proud.
Habitual liars are only amateurs. Con artists are harder to detect. And they do seek out people with integrity, for several reasons. Firstly, honest people are often naïve, easy to take from. But also, people who prioritize truth fascinate them. Yet, the latter better run from the cold, calculating thieves. The only good thing about thoroughly fake people is that they can cure your naivety. However, such lessons often come at very high prices.
We are all conceived as humans unacquainted with untruth. And, we pay dearly for even the smallest ‘white’ lie we ever hear or especially utter. Employing dishonesty removes us from reality and closeness with others (and G^d) until we come clean. It puts the brakes on us trusting anybody in anything. It makes us displeased with ourselves (if only we could admit that), deeply lonely, and unnecessarily defensive. Confusing yes and no plants mystery in our heads that prevents us from clarity about everything.
Lying also seriously impedes our memory. We need to remember parallel stories covering several universes. In practice, that results not in a better-trained memory but rather in not being sure what happened. Often, lies are used to cover up other lies or unclarities. If you want an excellent memory, you need to call a spade a spade and name everything correctly.
If you’re always scrupulously honest, you can coach your children and students (and spouse) to maintain or regain their integrity. Many other honest people will flock to you too. This way, you’re constantly surrounded by integrity and warmth. Make sure you couple integrity with mildness. Being stern and unforgiving, together with being factual, is a bad mix.
You can only accept coarse generalizations about groups of people if you tolerate dishonesty because they are obviously false. So, an honest person cannot be blatantly racist, sexist, etc. You won’t gossip either, because you won’t deny it’s underpinned and energized by boredom, envy, and hate.
You can regain the idea that lies are off-limits, the preciousness of ending truth. Just refrain from speaking falsehood, learn to shut up, and retract untruths. Then, you can also teach naïve people who to spot big liars.
Don’t steal. This, not because you are afraid of the consequences. Be honest because that is what you are. You’re not a cactus and not a thief. You don’t want to be caught as dishonest in your own eyes. And, integrity also implies not being an opportunist. The end does not always justify the means. Better honestly lose an argument than sneakily winning one.
Don’t flatter. Don’t even want what doesn’t belong to you. If it’s legally out of reach, it’s not for you for now. Maybe you can work harder to obtain it. Or, if its absence is unjust, band together with others to fight for justice.
We see how very honest the Sages of the Talmud were. So, any trace of dishonesty among Jews comes from living in the Diaspora, comes from assimilation, and being told over and over again that Jews can’t be trusted.
Try not to be angry at dishonest people. Just be lightly amused with their failure. As if seeing someone trying to ride a bicycle for the first time. They’re not willingly choosing to be evil. They have different priorities, either from hardship or from not having been raised by upright people only. You can feel for them a bit. It’s hard to learn honesty later in life. You can still have some fun with them; and trust them—that they’ll cheat.
Dishonesty is the deepest evil around now. It’s worth it to not go there.