Our society is not alone in according medical doctors enormous respect. Maybe it’s because we see them as the anointed among us to whom we turn, in faith, to perform miracles. We consider them miracles because they are shrouded in mystery and beyond the understanding of the rest of us.
Since doctors often deal with matters of life and death, we consider them a sort of priesthood, an earthly extension of the Hand of God. If they succeed or fail in curing us, maybe it’s because He meant them to. And, this being America, we can always sue if we don’t agree.
Certainly there are other degrees and training regimens that are as demanding as those necessary to become a doctor of medicine, but a maître d’ isn’t as likely to find an open table in a crowded restaurant for a theoretical physicist as he is for a Doctor So and So.
Slots in medical schools are not unlimited. A would-be doctor devotes several years of his (or her) life and a great deal of treasure to his training, with the understanding that upon its completion, he will go forth and benefit society with his skills. In return, he can be assured that those skills will provide him with a living.
So when we witness a medical doctor misusing this quasi-sacred trust to peddle opiates to addicts and out-of-state drug dealers for cash on the barrelhead, it offends us the way the pedophile priest scandal offended us. It’s a debasement of our faith that there are those among us who, through their service, are supposed to lift us all.