Migrants are good for your health

Why can we be certain that migrants are  good for your health?

Lets wind the clock back to the early years of Australia’s proud Anglo Saxon heritage when many began looking suspiciously and obliquely at migrants.

Governments of all colors promoted this critical and superior attitude by devising the “white Australia policy” which was strongly backed by Australia’s mainstream churches. These groups conveniently forgot that their Lord might have had a neatly trimmed beard and olive skin.

This put up an immediate road block to anyone learning anything useful from “those strange migrants.”  Instead Australians wanted to imitate their no-nonsense Empire.

Back then you had difficulty migrating, unless you passed a stringent English test. To many would-be-migrants, the literacy test seemed hard.

Public servants and their bureaucrats devised an academic test that could trip up non English visitors who didn’t know about snakebite, shark attacks and the famous cricketer Don Bradman. The bar was set very high because some Aussies were a pretty intolerant lot and we didn’t accept changes too well.

Illustrating our intolerance, this country was quite shocking in its early treatment of Aboriginal, and Chinese folk. Chinese ill treatment took place around 110 years ago, in the gold rush days and it has been documented extensively. Furthermore it was felt that the first indigenous Australians might not fit into this exciting new colony of the Empire.

And so it was that our forebears got used to making comments unworthy of a fruit bat………….things like:  “they (migrants) don’t live like us, and they hang out with their ethnic groups too much.” “You migrants and indigenous folks should learn to do what we do, singing Waltzing Matilda while roping a bullock….. eat meat pies with sauce and turn your chops into charcoal and work work work, never having any time to spend with your relatives.”

Migrants seemed to  know how to work hard and accumulate shiny junk however, in their favour, they valued their relationships and kept a sense of community.

Anglo Saxons were quite suspicious of migrant Aussies having a strong “sense of community,” asking why they didn’t spread out and become cold impersonal locals.

On the other hand we singing, roping, bullock-riding Anglo Saxons liked to accumulate junk and generally disliked a sense of community.

As recently as the 21st Century, quite a few Australians were still rabbiting on publicly about how migrants eat funny stuff and have values that will change our way of life and the things we treasure forever, like famous cricketers, taking sickies from work and dodging sharks in the surf.

Sure migrants don’t live like us but in many ways they live better than we do, with more variety in food, more conversation at meal times, more reunions and more quality relationships.

This brings me to Why Australia embraced the televised Masterchef phenomenon so strongly.

Through this program, we cold folk have discovered we can actually learn from migrants who have long celebrated good food, cooking together and longer mealtimes.

We have learnt that you can buy produce together, try exotic recipes, cook with your loved ones and actually spend a bit longer than usual on

the eating process. It has meant a bit more conversation.

Add to that, family values, the benefits of extended family, respect for the elderly and a reluctance to plonk old relatives in nursing homes. Also include that migrant kids generally don’t want to kill themselves because there is always someone prepared to talk to them. Yep, those migrants and ethnic minorities sure don’t live like us Anglo Saxons.

Would you like a slice of that? Would you like it if you could convince your family tree to exercise its talking genes?

Lack of conversation can damage the body

Prominent author and health expert, Jillie Collings agrees with the aforementioned comments by saying, “the brain is just like a computer. If it doesn’t get enough input, it malfunctions, and as a result, damages the body.”

To feed our computer brain through eyes and ears by conversing means we don’t sit in front of a computer for hours and hours where our imagination dies and our communication genes get soggy and switch off.

In the London Daily Mail, Andrew Wilson quotes Alan Caruba, from the Boring Institute in America, recommending that: “The three most important key points are to develop the reading habit, find a new interest and involve yourself with groups of people.”

I hereby recommend that obtuse characters be utilised and eccentrics put to work. If you are safely crazy then cultivate it, don’t hide it. You will save lives.

It is worth repeating a quote from Polish magazine Wprost which reported a study by the Institute of Sociology at Jagiellonian University, Krakow, Poland. “Up to 74 per cent of respondents would not do business with gloomy people and 69 per cent could not make friends with them. (hence no relationship prospects) Sad people were often perceived as hiding something. Researchers found that when we smile, more blood reaches our brain and this improves our mood,” the magazine reported.

People who tell jokes and laugh often are healthy communicators. On November 22 2005 the Courier Mail reported that humour has been found to have an effect on the cardiovascular and respiratory systems, similar to exercise. It relaxes muscles, helps the immune system and reduces pain and stress. A US study found a sense of humour and laughter may prevent a heart attack. Laughter appears to cause the tissue that forms the inner lining of blood vessels, the endothelium, to dilate or expand in order to increase blood flow. People with heart disease are 40 per cent less likely to react to humor, compared to contemporaries without heart disease. Makes you think doesn’t it. Unless individuals, education curriculums and societies teach the value of extended family and extended conversations, we won’t have the desire or skill to do any of this and neither will our offspring. At the end of our highly achieving lives our jobs will be all up to date. However we will ask why we accumulated all our pointless monuments and junk, and why crazy people with talking genes did not stress like we did?

Finally, if we are having difficulty getting our own personal family tree to interact with itself, why worry. We can connect with someone else’s family tree. Exercise your talking gene, you might be surprised at the result.

About John
John started out as a cadet in 1970 at Bundaberg News Mail, continuing as a feature writer at Rockhampton Morning Bulletin, then began producing regular freelance articles for the Sunday Mail and New Idea. Later he took up science writing for Qld climate, water and soil scientists. Whimsical stories and humorous bush poetry is his current passion.