Thursday, June 25, 2009

They Always Go in Threes

It is quite extraordinary, but whenever famous people die, they always go in threes. When Ray Charles died, his death was about the same time as that of Ronald Reagan and Marlon Brando. James Brown's death occurred in the same week as that of Gerald Ford, and Saddam Hussein. I remember chiding James Brown for passing away on Christmas day. I wished he had "picked" a different day to die. Nonetheless, while I was yet mourning the passing of the King of Soul, I received the news while out bowling that Gerald Ford had passed. There have been others who have died in the same pattern. Isaac Hayes, Bernie Mac, and Stephanie Tubbs Jones all died within days of each other. The deaths of Hayes and Mac were quite ironic and caused a stir because they had both starred in a movie together along with Samuel Jackson. After the passing of these actors, it was feared that Jackson would follow next completing the deadly triad.

The old adage that death comes in threes holds true. Early in the week, it was announced that Ed McMahon had died. I awoke this morning to the news that Farrah Fawcett the original Charlie's Angel had died. Fawcett’s death however was overshadowed later in the day by the demise of Michael Jackson, the King of Pop. Michael's death comes as a shock because it was unexpected. More than any of the deaths and the adage of deaths in threes, the passing of Michael Jackson at 50 is epic and truly touching. He had just announced the line up for his last performance scheduled to begin early in July. His passing is quite tragic because it seems as though his life was unfairly truncated and he did not get to see the final curtain call on his last act.

Is this triad mere coincidence or is there something more to the number three? The number three is significant in many cultures and religions, permeating folklore, the Bible and literature. In the Bible three represents the Holy Trinity, comprising the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Besides signifying the holy deity, Jesus suffered three temptations, there were three wise men present at this birth in the manger and Noah had three sons. In folklore, the significance of the number is played on again. There were three little pigs, Goldilocks and the three bears, and there were three musketeers. Also, In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s book the Scarlet Letter, the number three is symbolic of redemption, representing the relationship between self, other and God. Further, in Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis, the number three is often interpreted to be symbolic of the trinity and unifies the characters and events that occur. From folklore, to religion and ancient culture the number three often serves as a unifying force. Three does what one and two are unable to do, and makes up for the insufficiency of four.

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