I'm always keeping one eye on the prepping community and the other on world affairs; One ear to the ground and the other eves-dropping on the nearest water cooler conversation. If I were an animal I'd be somewhere between a chameleon and a fox (think big bulging eyes twisting in all directions while massive, protruding ears twitching in random directions, locating every little noise). I would be amazingly ugly. Ugly isn't a bad thing though as long as there's no one around to judge.
There seems to be a repeating theme among everyone who considers themselves prepared (and some who don't prepare simply because of this theory) that they are, to put it frankly, going to kick some serious ass when all hell breaks loose. They will put down anything who threatens them and pity be to anyone who gets near their food or family.
While this logic may help us sleep at night, it seems (to me at least) to be a bit simplistic; a bit too easy. I mean, if I woke up to a world torn asunder and looked out my broken window to see war-torn ruins that once had been the city I called home, with looters ripping valuables from the hands of screaming civilians at gun-point, my next move would be pretty obvious. Locate my guns, ammo, food and set up defenses. I can't imagine your plan of action would be much different.
Here's where I believe the problem rests. Most of us won't wake to that scenario, but rather transition in to it. Big things happen often somewhere in the world (or even country for that matter), but blow over and return to normal soon after. So when something happens in your neck of the woods, how will you know it's the big boom you've been preparing for, or just another calamity of the world?
This is an important question to ask and a hard decision to make, for if you react to soon or too extreme, you may find yourself under arrest or investigation.
Some wild kids throw rocks at your house due to an over zealous protest and you mistake them for looters or rioters, shoot at them, possibly hit or kill one... well, the S really will Hit The Fan, for you.
Another scenario, and one I worry about: you are awaken in the middle of the night by some commotion outside. You peek out the window to witness the familiar rotating and flashing lights of law enforcement vehicles, a large gathering of law officials and your neighbor being escorted out of his home towards a police truck. Then you notice officers walking out of his house with firearms from inside. What do you do? Would you assume they are coming for your weapons now and it's time to wake the family and prepare for war? Or would you more likely just sit there, wondering "what the heck did he do?" replaying the last time you talked to those neighbors, trying to piece this puzzle together? ...but suddenly, a knock at your door.
Think about it- how do you know when it's time? I don't worry about the time that may come when society has broken down completely, and the marauders roam the streets. Life will be simple then. Incredibly difficult, but simple. You'll know what to do at that point to stay alive. It's the transition we should all concern ourselves with.
We, as the prepared and preparing, need to draw our own individual lines in the sand and determine ahead of time when and where our personal triggers are. Make this part of your preparation and stick to it. You need to decide for yourself what your limits are and what it will take to push you in to action.
We don't plan to fail, we fail to plan.