A depiction of the ancient Greek philosopher Diogenes. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Legend has it that long ago the philosopher Diogenes walked the streets of ancient Greece with a lamp held high in search of an "honest man." His street theater suggested a quiet but dramatic protest against what he viewed as a corrupt society that smirked at government ethics and ignored personal responsibility.
A millennium or two later, the world's greatest democracy has need to follow in Diogenes' footsteps, as we collectively walk Washington, D.C. "looking for an honest man."
America comes to this crossroads at a perilous time. There are those in our nation's capital and leaders around the world who quietly believe our country is in a slow but deliberate decline, ceding global leadership to China much the way Great Britain gave way to the United States at the turn of the 20th Century.
If that is the case, then our world needs to brace itself for a dark, despotic era, for it was Abraham Lincoln who reminded all who would listen that the United States was, ".... the last best hope of earth." Despite all of our domestic bickering, it remains so today.
We are, however, going to need to collectively recognize the threat to our future. Much of it comes from within: when a nation loses faith in itself, it begins to abdicate its future to others. Consider the chilling results of a recent a national poll that found pride in America is down.
The findings underscore our shared national skepticism about our leadership and the emergence of a progressive movement that includes in its manifesto the idea that non-citizens have a right to vote, open borders should be embraced, and cashless bail for repeat felons is a perfectly acceptable criminal justice policy.
Add to this toxic brew the threat of ballot harvesting to the integrity of elections, the role of untraceable dark money in political campaigns, and the role of online overseas hackers seeking to set Americans against each other and you have a vicious "perfect storm" that can threaten our nation's future.
America has the inherent strength to recover from these assaults on our national will, but it must unite in a manner not seen since World War II.
To do so requires that we first recognize these existential threats and for that, Diogenes may need a bigger lamp.
Lawrence Kadish serves on the Board of Governors of Gatestone Institute.