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clothes in closetBy Tori Perez



A thing that is or may be chosen.

There is no freedom without options.

When I was a little girl, my mother would foster my toddler independence by showing me all the shirts in my closet and asking “Which shirt would you like to wear today?” It made me feel free and in charge. I would glance over the many different colors, hesitate, and then excitedly exclaim “that one!” Being able to point my tiny finger and say “that one” empowered me.

Freedom is not about rights. Freedom is about options. As a 3-year-old, it wasn’t my “right” to choose which shirt to wear that day, but my wise mother gave me the freedom to choose and that made all the difference.

The world is swirling with talk of rights; religious rights, gay rights, children and women’s rights. Have we forgotten freedom? The United States began based on principles of freedom, and to this day people flock to our country in search of it. They are not coming here to gain rights to governmental giveaways, they are coming here to be free. And freedom means being given options.

Like the shirts in the closet, freedom empowers us. A wise mother helps her child develop by encouraging wise decision-making. A wise government flourishes when the people have opinions and options. So why are we obsessed with gay v. religious rights? We are wasting our time arguing about which shirts should be in the closet when the important thing is the ability to choose which shirt to wear.

Nelson Mandela taught us “To be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.” Protecting religious freedom is not really about protecting religion, it’s about protecting freedom. Government can either act as a nurturing mother who fosters independence and growth, or as one who underestimates and stunts potential by choosing our colors for us. By taking away the religious “shirt,” we are missing an essential asset to our wardrobe. While some may not like the look of it, for others it is the only shirt that fits. And, of course, the more limits to our options, the more limited our freedom.

What are we really fighting for? Are we fighting for “nondiscrimination,” “tolerance,” and “rights,” or are we fighting for our freedom to choose? When we fight for options, we fight for freedom.

free·dom  ˈfrēdəm

The power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint.

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