The Many Aspects of a Pandemic and the One-Dimensional Official Response: Gabrielle Bauer – Part 2

Gabrielle Bauer, author of a book about COVID policies, discusses the effects of ignoring mental health and human connection during the lockdowns.
The Many Aspects of a Pandemic and the One-Dimensional Official Response: Gabrielle Bauer – Part 2
Gabrielle Bauer, author of "Blindsight is 2020," and Jan Jekielek, Epoch Times senior editor and host of "American Thought Leaders," in Toronto, Canada, on July 18, 2023. (Jerry Zhang/The Epoch Times)
Jan Jekielek
Lockdowns and COVID measures were a “one-dimensional response to a multidimensional problem,” as mental health issues, financial issues, and cultural issues were ignored by the policy makers, said health writer Gabrielle Bauer in a recent interview for EpochTV’s "American Thought Leaders."

“The very minute the lockdowns were announced and everyone started saying, ‘Follow the science, the scientists, the experts,’ I thought, 'Wait a minute, where are the economists? Where are the philosophers? Where are the historians at the table? Where are the mental health experts? Where are the social scientists?' These voices are just as important for managing a pandemic,” she said.

“It was singularly one-dimensional, anti-human,” she said.

Ms. Bauer comes from a Jewish and Catholic background and her mother survived the Holocaust, but she is not religious.

She said that during the research for her book she related to certain religious groups that refused to comply with the COVID measures.

The reason for the refusal, as the religious groups explained, was that “they had a different way of looking at the world.”

For instance, one religious Jew she interviewed in Israel said that “we believe that going to school and learning about Torah protects the kids. We are going keep them in school, because we believe this protects them," she said.

Ms. Bauer understood that different worldviews consider different things as essential, and what a secular worldview considers as nonessential might be essential for religious people, without one view being more valid than the other.

Ms. Bauer said these groups were also saying that communion is essential, learning together is essential, and it is not rational to toss everything out during a pandemic.

“I found that I had a new respect for those groups and a new understanding.”

Putting Children First

As to the children, Ms. Bauer said that “we adults are supposed to protect the children, and … in some sense I consider children’s lives more important than my own. I know this became heresy to say this during the pandemic.”

“Somehow there is this strange new narrative that took hold, that children didn’t have a special importance," she said.

“I still consider my kids’ lives and other kids’ lives more important than my own. I’ve had lots of fun, I’ve had the opportunity to do most of what I have wanted in life. The young people have not. They deserve it. That’s just one of my values,” Ms. Bauer said.

She felt very troubled that during the pandemic no one was talking about the children. She said her son was a college student at the time and was living in a basement apartment with no opportunity to go out, to socialize, or have other activities, so she was worried about his mental health.

A student wears a mask as he does his work at Freedom Preparatory Academy in Provo, Utah, on Feb. 10, 2021. (George Frey/Getty Images)
A student wears a mask as he does his work at Freedom Preparatory Academy in Provo, Utah, on Feb. 10, 2021. (George Frey/Getty Images)

When she talked about this online, an online stranger told her to stop talking about it.

“She said, like, nobody cares. The only thing that matters is we all have to stay home. And I profoundly disagreed with that. I thought we have to put children first.”

Regarding children and vaccinations, Ms. Bauer found it very distasteful that children were used as shields to protect adults, as that was the narrative at the time, that children are not at risk of dying, but they might carry the virus and pass it to adults.

“My whole being recoiled against that,” she said.

Putting a Value on a Life

There was an idea during the pandemic that you cannot put a value on a life, but it seemed to Ms. Bauer that there was in fact a value put on human life, and that value was not as high as one would expect.

“Public health is a balance. And you have to think about striking the most human and humane balance," she said.

A simple cost-benefit analysis in such cases only involves the life-years and the health condition, for example the mobility of a person, but does not address the well-being of that person, Ms. Bauer said.

In contrast, well-being economics include the well-being of a person and not just economic and health parameters, so the ability to attend a marriage, to attend a graduation, to go on a trip, “all these constitute the experience of living, and they have to be factored in as well,” Ms. Bauer said.

Sweden, for example, did a lot better in preserving well-being than countries with much stricter lockdowns, according to Ms. Bauer.

Many COVID measures were meaningless and were imposed just for showing that something was being done, rather than for being effective, she said.

“There is so much performative policy-making going on. Think about masking toddlers. What toddler on the face of the earth is going to keep a mask on in a way that fits the face?”

Ms. Bauer said that European countries were more sensible about children and schools compared to America, as they opened the schools much sooner and they did not do worse.

“It is very puzzling that America didn’t see what was going on there and adjust the policies accordingly,” Ms. Bauer said.

“I think it’s maybe this intense polarization that has taken hold of America, that made people dig in their heels.”

As an example, she said that a mother in the United States took her son, who was “exposed to COVID” to a hospital, but the son was in the trunk of the car. “What mother does that to her son?” Ms. Bauer asked.

“And there’s even sadder stories. There’s a young man or teenager who died of meningitis because the hospital did not want to admit him, because he had been exposed to COVID. Just horrible, horrible stuff. It broke my heart and made me furious.”

Collective Psychosis

People going mad during the pandemic could be attributed to a collective psychosis, Ms. Bauer said, quoting Carl Jung, the psychologist, who said that “there is no virus more dangerous than the mind virus.”

Ms. Bauer mentioned historic examples of collective psychosis, including the Salem witch trials and the spread of laughing and fainting spells without a physical cause.

“I mean, collective psychosis gets hold of people, and that herd mentality, which is baked into our DNA, kicks in. And I think it was all abetted by social media.”

Social media amplified these human traits like wildfire and “we got this collective madness,” according to Ms. Bauer.

“The media abdicated their traditional role, which is to push back against government excess, certainly to interrogate it. The media just became complicit. And that superseded all their other obligations.”

According to Ms. Bauer, the end doesn’t justify the means, so in order to save lives, the government cannot overstep every possible freedom of its citizens.

“If you think that your goal is so important, find other ways. And if the measures are going to help, ultimately telling the truth is going to have a better result.”

The measures were tied to a culture of “safetyism” which is how the society has evolved, according to Ms. Bauer.

“Safetyism” is the presumption that safety is the highest value, and not just the highest value but “orders of magnitude above anything else and should supersede all other considerations” Ms. Bauer said.

“When the people are willing to give up the freedoms that make life interesting, then there is an imbalance, and I think a lot of us felt that. And that’s how we found each other."

Fundamental Nature

Ms. Bauer talked about a theory that says that some people are more wired for freedom, for caring, for justice, cleanliness, and other things.

For people that have a very strong cleanliness foundation, they might think that freedom doesn’t matter, and this virus should be destroyed without other considerations.

Other people might have a stronger authority foundation, and believe that society is better served “when everyone stays in their own lane and follows the rules,” according to Ms. Bauer.

Pastor Henry Hildebrandt speaks at a demonstration against measures taken by public health authorities to curb the spread of COVID-19, in St. Thomas, Ont., on Nov. 14, 2020. (Geoff Robins/The Canadian Press)
Pastor Henry Hildebrandt speaks at a demonstration against measures taken by public health authorities to curb the spread of COVID-19, in St. Thomas, Ont., on Nov. 14, 2020. (Geoff Robins/The Canadian Press)

She said that depending on these different “moral tastebuds” that people have, people may react differently to the policies, and this was the reason for different visceral reactions, for people reacting instinctively to the COVID policies in different ways.

It is hard to find where we acquired these different moral foundations, Ms. Bauer said, and she believes they have deep and early roots in people’s lives.

There are people who care most about being perceived as caring, so during the lockdowns, they did not want to raise objections.

Ms. Bauer said she is very grateful to all the great minds featured in her book and that she found a silver lining to all this, because she met so many “amazing people” that she would not have met under different circumstances.

“But we need to keep talking about it so it doesn’t happen again," she said. "That’s really the purpose of all these essays and books and podcasts and discussions.”

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