Saturday, April 18, 2009


This is pumasi" time in Korea (품앗이). Life without it would be very difficult. This is a word that is used to signify exchanging labor. It is not easy to find laborers to work in the fields so the farmers lend their hands to others to be repaid in kind when asked. This is partnership where the results are easily seen.

In the district in which I live there are usually 6 families that group themselves to help and be helped during the busiest times of the farming season. That means that with the husband and wife it usually is 12 people. Here in our district they are presently getting ready the rice seedling beds.

When I first came to Korea I remember seeing 3 farmers with one shovel working together. The one in the middle would hold the shovel and you would have one man on the right and the other on his left with a rope that each held that was tied to the shovel handle. It was like a dance. The man in the middle would take the lead with the shovel moving it from the earth that he was digging and letting the dirt in the shovel fly off in the direction that he chose. The other two with a similar rhythm would go back and forth helping the man with the shovel. It seems that they could do more work doing it separately but it would not be as much fun.

The word synergism can teach us a lot. I have heard it over and over again that two horses, pulling in unison, can pull more than three times the amount that each horse can pull separately. You hear this

so often that there has to be some truth to what is being said. I would like it to be true also in our human society. This would revolutionize everything. I also believe this is the reason Our Lord sent his disciples out in twos. One plus one can be more than two.

It has been said that the society we are living in has set the task of making it

unnecessary for one human being ever to ask anything of another in the course of going about his daily business This is certainly not Christian nor very human either. Would it not be better to do nothing alone that could be done better with another? The Korean pumasi is a good lesson for us.

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