Not scared? You will be, by the end of this story.
YOU should be scared because this is all about you. It’s all about WHO YOU ARE.
You see, once you know who you are, you will also know who you aren’t.
Let’s start off easy. And since this is Halloween, let’s start off imagining that you are chained to a classic rack of the Inquisition. Scared yet?
First off, as your Inquisitor, I will clip your long fingernails. Now I’ll give you a nice manicure. Look at those fingernail clippings. Are they you? Are you they?
Of course not! You are not your fingernail clippings! You don’t care if they go or come, do you? And look at how nice your fingernails look!
Is the nail polish dry? Good. Let’s go to step two. I’m now pulling out all your fingernails. The whole thing. Don’t worry. It won’t hurt. Much. I’ll wait for the crying to stop before we continue.
Now, here are your fingernails in a box. Here are your fingers, without any nails. A bit bloody, but that will heal. Are YOU still YOU? Probably. People will recognize you. You can sign your name on checks and play with your smart phone.
Can you guess what step three is? Step four? Do I need to elaborate? I hope not. If I remove your hands, your feet, your arms, your legs, and so on, when do you stop being you? If you were to be deprived of everything except your brain, and if we knew how to keep your brain alive and even still be able to communicate with you, would that be you?
A story was written a long time ago about this very sort of thought experiment, called “Johnny got his gun.” It was meant to be a statement against war, but it serves equally well as a question about where YOU end, and the rest of your body begins.
The next time you’re clipping your fingernails, think about what would happen if the nail clippers suddenly became possessed and began clipping away at your body, out of control. At what point would they have stopped clipping body, and started clipping you?