(The following post constitutes virtually the entirety of the updated final section of Part I of my “Against the Lie” essay. If you do not consider yourself an “anti-esotericist,” or are still unfamiliar with the subject matter of religious esotericism and have not yet formed any opinions with regard to it, then I recommend that you instead read a shorter version of this post which does not discuss the subject of religious esotericism or its relevance to an “honesty culture” social strategy.)
“Principle is not limited by Precedent.”
I believe that it would actually be possible to solve the age-old problem of lying and dishonesty in human affairs if there were only a relatively small number of people who were willing to consistently adhere to a strategy based on the formation of what might be called “truth groups” (or “honesty groups,” to be more precise). I certainly make no claim that the thorough elimination of dishonesty in society would be achieved in the very near future by using this strategy; but I do believe that, in time, it would be achieved. (Incidentally, I also envision that these same “truth groups” would constitute the nuclei or beginning cores around which the moral communities that I describe elsewhere might come to form—with each of these moral communities practicing a non-esoteric religion or practical philosophy of its choice.)
I propose that members of truth groups would make four pledges, the first three being the most important to stress. First: They will never lie, either to each other or to outsiders—not even to those who have lied to them. (There would be a single exception to this blanket “never lie” rule: a kind of “self-defense” or “self-protection” exception that would apply in cases in which an individual’s personal privacy or autonomy was being unreasonably threatened—for example, by being asked intrusive and impertinent questions.) Second: To the extent that they are reasonably able, they will never tolerate lying by others. Third: To the extent that they are reasonably able, they will never tolerate the condoning (or promoting, or endorsing, or enabling) by others of lying by others. Fourth: They will strive to reduce how much they lie to themselves (at least to the extent they are able to do so, given that some degree of self-deception in every person is inevitable, and one must fight a never-ending battle against it).
A particular truth group could be formed around any interest that its members shared in common, or any mission or goal that they wished to jointly pursue. Any currently-existing group or association, including a small business, a non-profit organization, or an informal club, could always choose to additionally identify as a “truth group.” Members of different truth groups wouldn’t need to have anything in common with one another except a shared desire to promote the development of a thoroughly honest society.