Thoughts on the Death of Kissinger

Mourning, celebration, and legacy

Pax Ahimsa Gethen
3 min readNov 30, 2023
Henry Kissinger speaking at the LBJ Presidential Library in 2016. Public domain image.

Whenever a controversial public figure dies, debate ensues over whether it is appropriate for people to openly celebrate their demise. Yesterday’s death of former secretary of state Henry Kissinger at the age of 100 is no exception.

Speaking only for myself, I neither mourn nor celebrate the death of Kissinger. I do not mourn his death because this man was instrumental in war mongering. Whether or not he should be labeled a “war criminal”, as many have argued for, is not of great importance to me, because I am a pacifist and consider all war to be immoral.

At the same time, I do not celebrate Kissinger’s death because I do not celebrate the death of anyone, with the possible exception of those who are suffering greatly from terminal illness and wish to die peacefully. While I might casually or privately characterize people as “good”, “bad”, or “evil”, I try to judge actions rather than individuals. Everyone takes actions that cause more or less harm to others. Overall, I do feel Kissinger’s actions caused more harm…