Driven to change Challenge entry 14th July 2016 – Intermediate – Topic: Commute

What do reducing a prison sentence and driving to work have in common? They are both described by the word commute, meaning to exchange or replace with something equivalent. Hence in commuting a death penalty to life in prison, one penalty is replaced by another. In that sense, “commuting” to work exchanges home for the office – though heavy traffic or rail delays may make it seem like a punishment!

Another meaning of commute is to bring together several payments into one, hence a commutation ticket in the US is a single payment ticket (season ticket in UK) covering several journeys, which leads to the idea of commuting to work.

It’s important to remember where words come from, so that we use them correctly. One of the words most frequently misused today is politics, and its associate policy. Today it has come to refer to the actions of governments or the machinations within an organisation to achieve corporate or personal goals. This is far removed from its roots in the Greek work “polis” – meaning the people – and the implication that power was to be used for the good of all.

In a campaign for proper use language, perhaps we should encourage politicians to commute their policies from ideology into something that benefits the people they serve.


About prophetable

My wife Elizabeth and I were commissioned as Officers (ministers) in The Salvation Army in 1997, and have served in appointments in England and Scotland. Since July 2016 I have been working in The Salvation Army's Scotland Office as combined parliamentary and ecumenical representative.
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