The Museum of Victoria has been home to an Aztec exhibition for several months, which ends next weekend. After many delays, we finally got around to visiting the exhibition today, and I was amazed by many of the objects.
It’s impossible to honestly portray the Aztecs without mentioning their ritual of human sacrifice, and I was particularly struck by the following:
Tears for Tláloc
On this brazier, tears fall from the bulging eyes of Tláloc, god of rain. Children were sacrificed to him at the end of the dry season. They were considered Tláloc’s little helpers whose innocent tears ensured plentiful rains.
Brazier depicting crying Tláloc (god of rain), 1250-1521, Aztec, fired clay
What particularly struck me is that while we can tut-tut and moan about human sacrifice from another culture, we’re not so divorced from it as we’d like to think. There are many forms of sacrifice, after all. There’s the literal sense, such as conducted by the Aztecs, but there are other, insidious approaches that equally destroy human beings for the purpose of appeasement: such as Australia’s approach towards asylum seekers and notably, their children.
The treatment inflicted on these families, and these children, is heartlessly cruel and permanently scarring. It’s not to be sugar-coated, it is a form of sacrifice: the sacrifice of mental and physical health to appease angry gods: the xenophobic, narcissistic people who live in Australia’s marginal electorates.
From The Guardian: Christmas Island Detainees Stripped of Basic Medication, Inquiry Told (Oliver Laughland, 31 July 2014), we see a litany of horrors revealed:
The inquiry has published statistics showing that between January 2013 and March 2014 there were 128 incidents of self-harm involving children in Australia, constituting of 62% actual self-harm within the detention centres where children are held.
An epileptic girl had her medication stripped on arrival at Christmas Island – as is standard practice – and doctors could provide only one of two necessary pieces of medication.
“She started having seizures,” Ferguson said. “She was left on that one medication. We eventually got supply of that medication she arrived with, but they only ordered a month’s worth, so in a few weeks’ time they ran out and she was back to one [medication] again, and this whole time she was having seizures.”
Elizabeth Elliot, a paediatrician who accompanied the human rights commision [sic] on a three-day visit to Christmas Island earlier in the month, said she observed children unable to get treatment for conditions including an undescended testicle, abscesses and skin problems.
She said many children were suffering serious mental health issues. One girl had withdrawn to her room, stopped eating and told Elliot “it would be better to be dead than living here”.
“Almost every child we spoke to, that could articulate their feelings, expressed distress,” Elliot said.
and, moving on to Nauru:
Kirsty Diallo, a former social worker employed by Save the Children on Nauru, recounted numerous examples of the poor state of care for children.
She told the inquiry children had begged her for shoes with no holes in, for books and for clean clothes. Diallo said one mother had become so desperate for clothes for her daughter that she stitched a dress from a mosquito net for her.
A former immigration department official, Greg Lake, who worked as the centre manager on Nauru until the middle of 2013, said the purpose of detention, as he understood it, was to “construct an environment where people are used as examples … to remove hope”.
These are just the stories that are making it into the reports. It would be politically naive of course to lay the blame for these atrocities at the feet of the current coalition government of Australia only. The ALP has been complicit in the establishment of these policies for a long period of time, too, and engaged in a frantic bid to out-xenophobe the coalition prior to the 2013 election with the establishment of that cess-pit of horror, the Manus Island detention centre in Papua New Guinea.
This is the current state of Australia: the mental and physical health of a tiny number of asylum seekers is being sacrificed to appease the racists and the narcissists. However the government of the day tries to sugar coat it as the moral thing to do, it’s a blatant lie.
We can tut-tut all we like about the savagery of human sacrifice conducted by the Aztecs, and breathe as many sighs of relief as we’d like that such things don’t happen any more but that, too, is sugar coating.
And what’s worse: at least Tláloc supposedly shed tears for the children sacrificed to him.
The gods of Australia that demand these sacrifices just demand more without pause, and their high priests of depravity gleefully indulge them for continued favour.
How do we really want to be remembered?