I have a list of other blogs and alternative news media outlets that I follow, and another blog (http://homesteadsurvival.blogspot.com/2012/11/what-are-you-prepping-for.html) asked this same question. So I started thinking about it.
You know, I really didn't start out as a "prepper".
When I was in the military I realized I kind of liked ruck marches and sleeping outside, so I started backpacking. It wasn't long after I started my new hobby that I realized that the civilian market had MUCH better stuff. One thing led to another, and soon I was cutting the handle off my toothbrush and making alcohol stoves out of soda cans. I went on some solo hikes with my 25lb pack (water included), and once hiked out of the backcountry after breaking my wrist and splinting it with the internal stays from my pack and a couple bandannas. Hey, I was young and dumb- we all were at one point.
It wasn't until my power went out for a couple days (again) and I ended up in the kitchen cooking dinner on my backpacking stove that I thought "Hey, I might want to have a few things around the house". I wasn't really thinking about security. I was a brand new cop at the time and figured I could deal with it if some idjit broke into my house.
Then Katrina happened. I was far enough away that all I saw of the storm was some heavier than usual rain, but we got plenty of refugees. Since I was single and needed the money, I volunteered to pull overtime working at the shelter.
On one hand, I talked to a lot of people who had been displaced by the storm. I heard a lot of stories about the Superdome, about looters, about forced evacuations, weapons being confiscated, family members they had lost contact with and cars breaking down. All of a sudden my experience serving in the Balkans seemed to hit a lot closer to home. Some of those people had lost everything, and I felt for them.
On the other hand, I witnessed firsthand what an influx of refugees could do to the city and citizens I felt responsible for. Burglaries and robberies got so bad in the neighborhoods closest to the refugee shelter that we had to institute a curfew at the shelter. Gang violence erupted as the new gangs clashed with the local gangs. As a cop it was something of a paradigm shift for me. I arrested one of my "frequent flyers" one night and we had a conversation about it. To paraphrase my prisoner, he said "My family, my kids are here. This shooting up stuff has got to stop." The local gangs had butted heads with the cops for years, but they were invested in the community. The refugees had no such restraint.
Then came several waves of influenza. Despite the fact that my husband and I were both first responders and therefore got priority for the flu shots, we both got sick anyhow. It wasn't fun, but it wasn't as bad as the media hype. I still couldn't help but think of my family's story about how my great grandmother met my great grandfather, when he helped bury her father after he died in the pandemic of 1918.
Eventually I became a stay-at-home mom, and we became a single income family. Kids really do change everything. All the common sense prepping that I had undertaken before gained a sense of urgency. All the talk about politics and the economy has me worried, and I don't like the way things are headed. No matter what happens, I want to know that my family will be as secure as I can make them.
I guess the short answer is that I'm prepping for life, which isn't always as simple or straightforward as we might like.