Bishop Willie

F. Brooks Jr.

Karl Rajani


19 – Aug – 2023

“Dear Bishop Willie Brooks – Today I had a break of half an hour between meetings, and I decided to start reading your book.  Wow!  Honestly, I cancelled my next two meetings so I could finish reading it.  I just could not put it down.  Your life story and the lessons that you have learned, the experiences you have had (especially as a Marine), your interpretation of the Bible, and the wisdom that you have accumulated – it’s simply amazing.  I was also touched by your tribute to your Mother.  I try to be a good leader myself, but in reading your book, I realized that I fall short in many areas.  In particular, I am not good at conflict resolution, as was clear during the neighborhood meeting we had with the Alderman.  Your reference to “menial tasks typically reserved for servants” reminded me of the motto of the Medieval monks “Laborare est Orare” (to labor is to pray), which essentially means that there is dignity in all labor and that we are all equal in the eyes of God.  Reminds me of a time I was visiting friends in England, and they had invited me to their home for an opulent dinner.  The dinner was prepared by a live-in servant, who cooked the meal and then served us.  I felt very uncomfortable.  Here we were, living the “high class life” while the servant obediently and silently served us and cleaned up after us.  It just did not feel right to me.  There was no compassion for how she as a poor person might feel.  We could have invited her to eat with us, but of course my high class friends would find that improper.  I realized I myself could never have a servant.  However, being servant to others, especially to a cause – that is something I find appealing and part of my nature.

Another thing that struck me was your discussion of the concept of stewardship.  I worked for the Catholic church for 7 years, and I was actually steward of significant church assets.  I was what the Church under Cannon Law called a “private juridic person”, i.e., a layman who was charged with stewardship of Church assets.  (The bishops and the nuns were called “public juridic persons”.)  In this role, I worked very hard to preserve all Church property and not to “alienate” it.

As a Hindu, I believe in a higher purpose in life.  The Bible teaches us that we are all equal because we are made in the image of God.  The Bhagvad Gita (the Hindu Scriptures) teach us that God resides in each of us, and it is the same God that resides  in each of us, and that is what makes us equal.  So Judeo-Christian principles and values are also the same in Hinduism.  In our Hindu faith, we say that “there is a war within” each of each.  We are always fighting our inner demons, and we will try but never completely overcome them until we achieve “nirvana” – i.e., freedom from our mortal life and escape from our physical body.  I believe this is the same in the Christian faith, where Christians strive to live by the 10 Commandments, but (except for Saints) never completely abide by them, but struggle on a daily basis to do so.

You discussed humility.  Humility is something that I try to practice, but sometimes catch myself boasting, although I may not realize it in the moment.  However, humility I believe can be taught.  However, I don’t know if “empathy” can be taught or acquired, or are we born with it?  Same goes for compassion.  On the other hand, listening is definitely something that can be learned.

Thank you so much for writing this wonderful book, and for sharing.

With admiration, Karl Rajani.”