I've been long interested in learning how people in other cultures view life, each other, and the cultures around them. While I cling to the belief that human beings want essentially the same things in their lives, it is worthwhile to remember that there are not only a lot of factors of which I am not aware and factors that have been misinterpreted or misrepresented, but that the filters of my own cultural expectations can have a warping effect on everything I see. It takes a great deal of effort to remove judgement, or at least pay attention to the criteria on which things are judged.
It completely fascinates me to hear how other cultures view my culture, and to realise once again that few of us are "typical" of our cultures -- and that we may not like what others see.
Much thanks to Joi Ito's Web for a hunk of valuable information.