Contemplations of a Streetsmart Bookworm Uncategorized

Random thoughts on the number 3

Written by Ope Ashiru


I am a numbers guy.  I have a natural affinity for numbers in general, but the number 3 in particular is my favourite. If you belong to my ‘constituency’ The Trinity will most likely be the top match for the number 3 on your numerological scale. Fair enough. It’s interesting to note that man also exists in 3 dimensions, matter exists in 3 states, the law states that 3 witnesses establish a matter, even in heaven there are 3 that bear witness. The 6 –year old referee in an unconventional football game by the roadside in Sudan will tell you ‘3 free-kicks make a penalty’. 3 strikes and you are out-RED. For me 3 is a number that provides a confirmation for almost anything.




There is a saying in Chicago ‘Once is happenstance, twice is coincidence, thrice is enemy action’.  ‘Once bitten, twice shy’ thrice they say is a confirmation of dumbness-Maga! In my grandma’s time it was said ‘The pot is placed on a tripod to ensure the stew does not spill’. Now that is a deep one, unless you are Yoruba you probably won’t get to the bottom of it. I apologise the best I could do is translate, some things cannot be interpreted except you are Joseph, or Daniel, or…




I read a story 13 years ago, back in the days before MTN data bundles and swift network-the days of dial-up connection-NITEL, the days our parents locked  the landlines and we tapped the phone boxes, the days when I used to go to the cybercafé to read my yahoo emails(most of which were spam) *shakes head* by which time some of my mates had already entered the ‘yahOO!’ game and were cashing in big time **shakes head twice** I was busy reading spam mails and fables! Completely oblivious to what was going on around me ***shakes head thrice***Anyway I read the story and learnt a few lessons. I will share the story here for free, the lessons you will have to pay for.  So here the fable goes as I remember it:




The Catholics had tried unsuccessfully to displace the Jews in Rome from the holy city. After negotiations it was agreed that a debate would be held, and if the Catholics won the Jews would leave the holy city in 3 days, but if the Jews won then they would remain undisturbed. The rules of engagement also stated that the debate would be wordless. The Catholics chose a priest as spokesperson, while the Jews chose a rabbi.




On the day of the debate every one gathered round while the spokesmen sat face to face. After thirty minutes the priest raised 3 fingers and showed them to the rabbi who raised just his index finger and showed the priest. The priest smiled and nodded. The priest then circled his hand and waved it in an upward manner towards the rabbi who looked at him, smiled and pointed emphatically towards the ground. Once again the priest smiled and nodded. After what seemed like eternity the priest brought out wafers and wine and began to eat, immediately the rabbi brought out an apple and took a bite. The priest jumps up and says ‘You win, you all can stay’.




On getting back to their own, the Catholics ask the priest what transpired, he explains. ‘The Godhead – I told him to explain the mystery of the Trinity and he said God is One. Omnipresence – I told him to explain how God can be everywhere, he said because God is here, he is omnipresent. Communion – I told him to explain the holy sacrament, and he showed me the reason behind it, a picture of the first sin’. The Jews asked the rabbi what  transpired, he said: ’He told me we have just three days left and I told him we are not leaving, not for a single day. He told me every one of us is going out; I told him we are staying right here. As soon as he started eating his lunch I brought out mine’.




But what is the correlation between the number 3 and the above story? Maybe it’s the 3 lessons I learnt from it, or maybe it’s just a random story from my endless repertoire. I don’t believe in randomness. After solving Schrodinger’s wave equation, I have come to realise that there is nothing random about the arbitrary movement of dust particles in open space. How much more things of greater consequence? Even if you did not have the privilege (or agony depending on how you see it) of studying Quantum Physics, I am sure you are blessed with the benefit of hindsight. Just look back at your life, connect the dots and observe the pattern that emerges. You cannot but agree with Einstein who said ‘God does not play dice’. In life there are no such things as random coincidences, only divine orchestrations.


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