I have read the biography called Frederick Banting by Stephen Eaton Hume for this novel study. Banting’s discovery of insulin and prolonged scientific studies interest me particularly because there are only so many notable Canadian scientists.

“He took a dog-earned anatomy book from the shelf. It was the same book he had in Europe when he was a medical officer in the Great War. He used to read it in the trenches while German shells whistled and exploded around him. Major L.C. Palmer, his superior officer, used to kid him about the way he studied. The other men had never seen anything like it. That Banting was something. He had guts. Not even the German guns could shake him.” (Hume, 20)

I find this quote particularly interesting because I have an immense admiration for hardworking people. Growing up on a farm, Banting observed how hard his family needed to work to earn a comfortable living for him and his siblings. He emulated that, by habit, on the battlefield in order to provide the best care for his peers. There is so much information and specifics in the study of human anatomy, so it is definitely that knowledge that pays off when it’s necessary to save lives. At the same time, Frederick Banting may have chosen to read during these stressful situations as a way of distraction from where he was. Perhaps, this was a reminder that he is still a doctor who had life waiting for him back home. We do not know him on a personal level, but at least he was being productive, useful, and very tough.

This states the same things about Canadians, especially of the pre-modernized time. Jobs took more effort to compete, and people weren’t used to luxury like they are today. Neglect to acknowledge every uncomfortable feeling (rooted especially in masculine stereotypes) bred people to be tougher, even if often apathetic. Although not as long ago, my parents grew up in the Soviet Union. Feelings and societal views were not blown out of proportion by the internet, and life was simpler for them. Oftentimes, the households would not care about healthy family standards, so the kids grew up insensitive and dull. This is not the case today, because we place safety and stability at a higher standard than being mentally toughened and weathered.

“He didn’t go to church anymore. Life in Canada had changed. There were more cars. Food was expensive. Women wanted to vote and have the same rights that men had.” (Hume, 21)

I find this growing lack of religious commitment to be interesting because it reminds me of the same exact situation today. I wouldn’t have thought that 100 years ago, the same would be true. This reminds me of how adults today constantly complain about the children getting more entitled, selfish, and overall worse. Apparently, back in the day, Aristotle wrote the exact same thing about his younger subordinates. These trends are the same no matter what century, which is one of the few things that we may have in common with the historic people.

All groups of people evolve, yet Canadians evolve especially quickly due to an open mind. While there are some religious beliefs that are holding us back, our growing multiculturalism allows them to be taken more lightly than in culturally homogenous countries. Radical ideas are accepted more today than they were back then, because most people were of one religion. Because this book was written just a few years ago, the author basically does the analyzing part for us by use of his tone. It’s easy to imagine this quote being said sarcastically in such a way that makes fun of these ideas being demanding or unexpected 100 years ago.

“Banting and Best had to do everything. They even had to help the attendant clean out the dog cages.” (Hume, 33)

“They sang songs from the Great War to help themselves stay awake. They cooked their food over a Bunsen burner and sometimes, when they had to nap, curled up in the lab next to the barking animals.” (Hume, 34)

Living in such a stable situation, I am always amazed to learn of other people whose life has gone terribly wrong and they’ve started from scratch. Banting escaped a sad marriage and nonexistence career to do unpaid research on a widely tackled and complex topic, along with a man he barely knows. All this effort and time was put into something so trivial, yet they are able to continue with high spirits and not live in a recurring state of existential crises.

Not many Canadians are very wealthy, so it is necessary for them to develop good work ethic. Moreover, all eminent people have had to go above and beyond what was expected of them in order to excel. In recent work environments, there is a clear segregation between the researchers and janitors. It’s expected that experimental venues reach a standard of care, otherwise the research will be discredited. I feel that it would be a lot harder to FDA approve insulin or even acknowledge the making of isletin.

“The doctor phoned a wealthy friend who had a very sick diabetic child. After a few minutes Banding had the money for equipment to produce potent insulin, and the Doctor had insulin for his friend’s child.” (Hume, 77)

“I’d like you to meet Elizabeth Huges.” (Hume, 84)

Banting is a very poor man, so having connections was essential to making his project a success. Even though it is unethical to heal the sick child of the aristocrat first, we wouldn’t otherwise have insulin. I am also broke and very resourceful, so there have been many moments in my life when I thrived off of other people’s contributions.

We know that Banting cured people for the joy of life and not for wealth because he turned down many prosperous opportunities. He was offered to own his own clinic and serve rich families, which he instantly declined. When his patient Elizabeth got better after isletin injections, he and his board were astonished and overjoyed by the results. As described in the book, he genuinely cared a lot for the future life of the child. Being part of a functional society means to be propelled by more than capitalism, which is what Canadians have been demonstrating often.

“He began calling himself a communist and referring to his friends as ‘comrade’’’ (Hume, 123)

When Banting traveled to the Soviet Union as part of his later career, he was fascinated with there being no unemployment in the 1930s while his city of Toronto was suffering greatly. Banting viewed capitalism and bureaucracy as being the cause of all evil in our country, so he decided to look elsewhere for the best system. I find this quote interesting because my logical brain never understood unfounded communist-based humour. Even with hearing my parents’ childhood stories, I find little joy in making fun of a system that had its best intentions. Every attack to it is based on the fact that people are selfish and terrible, so is that a fact that we should be proud of realizing?

Banting is an especially decent Canadian especially because he has the country’s best intentions in mind. He demonstrates this throughout his entire career: researching bio-weaponry for the war, being concerned with federal tax usage, and speaking out for against Hudson Bay’s use of eskimo. Of course, he later sees that communism isn’t quite working out for the Russian municipalities, so he stops aspiring to this system. Like him, I’m sure that most Canadians would choose to consider communism if there is no communal disrespect to it and they didn’t know that it wasn’t functioning well enough.

Theme:

Oftentimes, hope is the result of hard work, and not the other way around.

Banting was a middle aged man who was not flourishing in life when the idea of Iselin first came to him. His self-employed medical practice wasn’t getting publicity, and his wife was disappointed in him for not earning money. “Like most women who worked, she planned to give up her job one she got married. She wanted to raise a family. No decent man in the 20’s would allow himself to be supported by his bride.” (Hume, 16). He became inspired to research when he was preparing to present a medical lecture about the pancreas, and read a few papers on diabetes and sugar metabolization. If he had not been planning to teach that lecture, then he would not get any hope to discover something new. His family situation certainly had not provided the necessary motivation. A certain degree of perseverance is always required in life, and motivation doesn’t factor into that quality.