Let’s all please, please stop pretending that certain people are morally superior because of how they make their money. Some jobs just sound absolutely pure and perfect as concepts and it’s easy to believe that only a complete angel with the best of intentions would want them. Yet the moment you introduce actual human beings with thoughts and feelings and flaws and prejudices and doubts to make any idea a reality, it’s not going to be perfect anymore. Anything involving real people will inevitably develop problems.
Take the example of the police. The idea of police work is noble— fearless, dedicated people risking their lives every day to serve and protect their communities. The majority of police officers really do have that intention, I hope. However, we should also keep in mind that being an authority figure who gets to carry a gun around, access drugs, and act aggressively towards anyone deemed “suspicious” is also an attractive job to those who would seek to target certain groups or go on power trips. It’s a job for both do-gooders and truly awful people. The same goes for other occupations that are put on pedestals because the idea of the job sounds so pure.
Doctors are supposed to heal and comfort the injured and ill. They are also entrusted with access to valuable, powerful drugs and intimate parts of patients’ bodies, sometimes while patients are unconscious. Teachers are supposed to educate and nurture children. They also spend hours alone with other people’s kids who are told to obey all their instructions. Religious leaders are supposed to preach goodwill and lead their followers through times of hardship. They are also idealized as earthly messengers of gods’ wishes who would never do anything sinful. Soldiers are supposed to defend their countrymen and people in need around the globe. They are also trusted with deadly weapons around people who are typically looked down upon in isolated, lawless regions.
The potential for abuse and corruption is enormous in all of these fields, yet the concepts of the jobs are so selfless and innocent that the people who choose them are automatically viewed as such. They are not to be questioned, accused, or doubted because the idea of what they do is so inherently good. This kind of thinking, this refusal to acknowledge the full humanity of romanticized workers, is what leads to tragedy. People like Larry Nassar, William Calley, Jason Van Dyke, “Jeff Ivers”, and so many more were protected while their victims suffered because people are so reluctant to consider that anyone with a “good” job is capable of such cruelty. I’m not saying that’s the only cause of atrocities like those— there are plenty more I don’t have time for— but it is a significant factor. We need to stop pretending that a job title makes someone immune to natural human urges with the potential to ruin other people’s lives when they’re indulged. We need to stop assuming that someone is above reproach because the idea of their occupation is so wholesome.
By no means is this myTake saying we should treat anyone with automatic suspicion because their job is idealized. I believe that most of the people in these fields really do go to work every day wanting to do as much good as they can and make the world a better place. I am beyond grateful for those who choose to protect, educate, and lead their communities even when their salaries are low or they face opposition. I believe that the majority of these people mean well.
I’m writing this to encourage all of you to reconsider any blind loyalty or worship you may be guilty of when it comes to certain people. No one becomes faultless when they step into the office. No one completely sheds their darker impulses when they put on a uniform. We are all capable of extraordinary good and unspeakable evil. We all tell the truth sometimes and lie other times. We all put our loved ones first when we can or put ourselves first when we feel like it. We are all imperfect. Whether we’re called Doctor or Officer, Reverend or Captain, Mr. or Ms., we are all human.