In my opinion, when the SHTF, you will need to rely on other persons; you cannot go it alone. However, if any of the more severe disaster scenarios occurs, especially if it extends over a long period of time, many persons — who before seemed calm, reasonable, and reliable – will be struck with fear and, as a result, they might behave differently. Desperate people do desperate things. So be careful whom you trust.
Take into account that human nature is susceptible to acting from emotion or from self-interest, even when it is contrary to reason or law or the common good. Consider that you yourself may have difficulty at times remaining calm, using reasonable judgment, and avoiding rash or foolish behavior. Does this imply that you would be better off barricading yourself in a remote location with lots of guns and canned food? No, it does not. What it implies, in my view, is that you would be better off relying on many different persons, with a moderate level of trust, and a high level of prudential caution. I’m not suggesting paranoia, but rather a prudent limitation on the trust that you place in any one person during this difficult time.
Divide the responsibilities for self-defense, food, water, supplies, equipment, and the various tasks associated with surviving a difficult time among multiple persons. Approach your neighbors and seek a cooperative common understanding about neighborhood defense, and mutual aid in distress. Develop a network of family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers on whom you might rely for assistance in difficult situations.
Keep a low profile. In other words, do not advertise the fact that you own many useful items that other persons, when fear and desperation strikes them, may try to take from you by deception or force. It might seem to you, right now, that all your friends, co-workers, neighbors, and family members are basically trustworthy. But as the times become worse and worse, you cannot anticipate which persons might act unreasonably, if they are badly affected by some disaster and were unprepared.
You might draw a different conclusion, but I would say that people should not be entirely open about all of the resources that they have for survival. It would be imprudent to let your neighbors know about all of the methods that you are using to reinforce and defend your home. They might use that information against you. It would be imprudent to let co-workers know what types and quantities of food and supplies you have stored in your home. Even family and friends living in your home should not be told about all of the resources to which you have access. And this implies that you should consider keeping some resources hidden in your home, and other resources stored at a location away from your home.
This Dilbert cartoon humorously portrays Dilbert as a dedicated Prepper. He makes the mistake of telling his co-worker about all his preps.
If your home is robbed of food and other necessities, how will you survive? Or if you are betrayed by one or more persons, how will you recover? I suggest that it might be useful to have one or more locations in addition to your home in which you have stored various necessities. And I further suggest that you keep the knowledge of these places to yourself. Even if all persons in whom you confide remain entirely trustworthy, eventually someone untrustworthy person will obtain the information needed to do you harm. Prudence is not paranoia.
The saying is true that you cannot choose your family members. However, you can choose how you deal with them, which relatives you cooperate with, and which relatives you leave alone. Respect everyone. But be careful whom you trust, and how much you trust. You need not treat all family members the same. If one family member is trustworthy, you might want to work with that person during difficult times. And if another family member is not trustworthy, or is not competent for a particular task, you might choose not to work with that person. It is reasonable and prudent, in my opinion, to make a practical decision as to which family members you should associate with more closely, and which you should help while distancing yourself from them.
It is a mistake to think that concern for the good of other persons requires us to trust everyone, to be naive, and to treat strangers the same as friends. In peaceful times, perhaps trust is easier. But in difficult times, trust must be earned. Do not trust anyone too readily. Do not be quick to treat someone you hardly know as a friend.
Some of those persons who are your friends now, even if you have known them for years, might not remain your friends as some disaster unfolds over a lengthy period of time. Self-interest can cause people to forgo friendship. But you do not need to behave the same way. You can help others without abandoning your responsibility toward yourself and your family and friends. But to help others in perilous times requires prudence, good judgment, caution, and more than a little cynicism. For we live in difficult times.