An Oregonian attending an Ivy League school in the East was cornered by one of her classmates.

andquot;You Oregonians think you're better than the rest of America,andquot; he scolded her.

After some thought, she apologetically replied, andquot;You know, you're right.

andquot;We are better than the rest of America.andquot;

Lately, however, few Oregonians have found ready cause to take that kind of pride in their state. Most folks regard Oregon as something of a pitiable place these days. Why is subject to interpretation.

Oregonians have abdicated their responsibility to pay their fair share of public education, public safety and the aid and comfort we offer our society's most vulnerable citizens.

Or, Oregon is saddled with a cumbersome and inefficient government unwilling or incapable of reforming itself, but fully capable of trying to blackmail more tax dollars out of an unsound economy.

Why it is dark, however, doesn't matter. It is where Oregon will find a new dawn that should drive us forward.

Take a few moments on Friday, Oregon's birthday, to reflect upon Oregon's almost century and a half of statehood and your responsibilities as a citizen of this state.

Will we follow the advice of one teen quoted in The Oregonian newspaper, who said she was going to move out of the state as soon as she graduates?

Will we take up the gauntlet thrown down by Gov. Ted Kulongoski, who is looking to the citizenry to lead reformation of Oregon's unstable tax system?

Or will we pour ourselves into the foundry of some still molten idea and smith a new era for Oregon?

This is our challenge, our opportunity, our responsibility as caretakers of this place called Oregon.