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Matthew Lykos- Adelaide, Australia (English)

My name is Matthew Lykos and I live in Adelaide, South Australia, near Karrawirra Parri (River Torrens) near a site where I understand that the Kaurna people, the traditional and continuing custodians of the land I live on, used to meet and exchange stories.

I am 26 years old and live in a suburban house with my parents. My grandparents migrated to Australia from Greece and Portugal in the early 1950s. Determined to live a new life as Australians, they did not endeavour to pass the language or culture of their former homes on to their children; I now come to think of my heritage as that of the communities that have formed the figurative villages that have raised me, especially those of Folk Musicians and Australian Quakers.

As a singer, many days of the week I have the great pleasure of being trusted to help people with their singing. When choirs ask me to come and help them to achieve their singing goals I do what I can to help them to have as much fun and fulfillment as they can in their singing. I work with individual singers in the music studio in my home, sometimes working with professional and experienced singers, and sometimes with people for whom singing is new and scary. I consider myself very lucky that people choose to trust me to hear and help guide the development of their singing, especially when for so many, to share their voice is to allow oneself to be vulnerable. I also sing and play guitar and mandolin as a soloist and with ensembles.

As well as spending time in music, I enjoy travelling, camping, coffee, exploring by foot and by bicycle, and sharing time with friends. I especially value time with those friends with whom I can talk freely about life’s joys and sorrows as though I live closely with them, even when we may only see each other every few months or years. I try to visit The River regularly to quietly listen to the water, the wildlife, the wind and my thoughts. It is when I am doing this that I feel most able to listen for The Spirit.

In my everyday connections with friends, colleagues, students, strangers and all people, I endeavour to hear them and make them feel heard, validated and appreciated. I try to observe and avoid in my own behaviour and expression, anything which is judgemental or a product of fear. Most days this is an easy by-product of being a fortunate and happy individual with a sincere interest in people. I hope that by listening well and finding ways to positively participate in and create community (something I try to do with music), I can help people to have the comfort and empowerment that will help them to do the same for others. I feel I am led to do this. This sense of leading is reinforced by my experience, not by when it is easy for me, but rather, by the times that it is difficult. On more difficult days when I notice that my usual interest in people and my investment in their well-being has been distracted by hurts and concerns of my own, I find in myself a want to understand how I can be the best that I can be at facilitating an interpersonal environment that is conducive to healing, cohesiveness and peace.

In the past year I have found myself involved in my Regional Meeting and Yearly Meeting in new ways. I helped in the care of the Junior Young Friends (JYFs) at both Regional Residential Meetings and at Australian Yearly Meeting, I compèred two Quaker events showcasing musical performances, sat on the Yearly Meeting Planning Committee, and with the permission of the Kaurna Elders and the gift of the Kaurna language wrote a melody for a song used in the Access to Country Ceremony that preceded Yearly Meeting. While my participation as a committee member has been mostly that of quiet observation, I relish these opportunities to be involved in the Quaker decision making process.

I feel a leading to learn more about how I as a listener can best enable people to grow and heal, and to see and learn from the ways that other communities live. To this end, I intend one day to become a Speech Pathologist, empowering people to express themselves with language and their voices. I also plan that next year in 2018 I will work and travel around Australia, experiencing different working and living environments, and learning from the many people I will meet.

While the age I live in still sees unjust and horrific treatment of people and the planet, I am comforted by little things that show me that in a slow and indirect way, we are moving towards a more aware, loving and respectful world. I am encouraged by the work of compassionate and active people: those who lovingly work toward environmental conservation, those who find ways to help others in need, and those who have been victims of trauma and injustice who tirelessly maintain the exhausting internal management necessary to never perpetuate the issues they have suffered from.

Such organisations as Médecins Sans Frontières who offer medical assistance to people in crisis regardless of their nationality, political alignment or religious beliefs, and Amnesty International who work to defend human rights across the world, bring me hope. Most of all, I take hope from the Baha’i notion that peace is not only a possible and worthwhile goal, but an inevitability. It would be wonderful to live in a world of peace in my lifetime, but if I can not, I will take pride and delight in witnessing the part of the journey toward peace that I can.