I don’t know if you watch 60 Minutes but I think it’s still the most important and relevant TV show in America. The piece they ran on Jeff Hall, a rising star in the neo-Nazi National Socialist Movement, was heartbreaking.
In short, Jeff Hall was killed by his son. His 10-year-old son.
The story is tremendously sad and complicated. Jeff Hall worked in construction in Riverside, CA. That part of the country was hit hard by the recession. And Jeff Hall was one of the average “white guys” who couldn’t find work after the bottom fell out of the housing market.
So what did Jeff do? He didn’t relocate his family. He didn’t stop having kids. He didn’t go back to college on a Stafford Loan or a Pell Grant.
He got angry. He got political. And he turned into a local Nazi. That’s the sensational part of the story.
He also drank. Beat his wife. Abused his kids. That’s the very common part of this story.
You have a relatively young guy who is unemployed, broke, and grappling with the concept of what it means to be a man in America. He can’t lead his family. He can’t deal with his demons. He can’t get help for his young son who is installed in a broken school system and can’t get help for his severe psychological problems. Jeff doesn’t blame himself. He doesn’t blame the companies who hired him under an employment brand and offered him a unique and compelling employment value proposition and then let him down. He blames immigrants, the federal government, and minorities.
Unfortunately, Jeff’s reaction to these disruptive times isn’t all that uncommon. We see examples of this behavior in Western Europe. We see it in our families. We have men who lose their jobs and have no other identities. And they lose their shit and get angry with the wrong people.
And just like the Sunnis who hate the Shi’a, Jeff Hall hated legal citizens (minorities) in his own country. And he couldn’t cope with the stress of unemployment, job scarcity, and a hot/fast/cheap/flat world. So he drank. He drank. He drank.
And he beat his wife and his son.
And his son shot him at point-blank range.
If you don’t think that work, power, politics, and money intersect the real world of Human Resources and recruiting — my core audience on this blog — you are in the wrong job. Jeff Hall’s situation was tragic, but it can inspire you to rethink your labor practices, your corporate infrastructure overhead, and your employer brand. You can think about how to be strategic and add to your company’s bottom line. Be a good citizen and start hiring people in good jobs and with good benefits. Stop disrupting the lives of regular Americans.
HR didn’t cause this problem but I know HR can be part of the solution.
And we can all take a second and offer a moment of reflection for Jeff Hall and his family — and other families in America.
There is real suffering out there. Nazis or not.