Dear Readers: Did you know there is an International Forgiveness Week? Well, neither did I - until six years ago, when Alice Parenti of Fresno, Calif., wrote to tell me about it. And this is the week.

If you are a card-carrying member of the human race, there is at least one person in your life who needs your forgiveness. Or perhaps it's you who needs to be forgiven, so hop aboard the mea culpa bandwagon, let go of those grudges and give your ulcer a chance to heal.Robert Muller, former assistant secretary-general of the United Nations, wrote this lovely piece especially for International Forgiveness Week:


Decide to forgive

For resentment is negative

Resentment is poisonous

Resentment diminishes and devours the self.

Be the first to forgive,

To smile and to take the first step,

And you will see happiness bloom

On the face of your human brother or sister.

Be always the first

Do not wait for others to forgive

For by forgiving

You become the master of fate

The fashioner of life

The doer of miracles.

To forgive is the highest,

Most beautiful form of love.

In return you will receive

Untold peace and happiness.

Here is the program for achieving a truly forgiving heart:

Sunday: Forgive yourself.

Monday: Forgive your family.

Tuesday: Forgive your friends and associates.

Wednesday: Forgive across economic lines within your own nation.

Thursday: Forgive across cultural lines within your own nation.

Friday: Forgive across political lines within your own nation.

Saturday: Forgive other nations.

Only the brave know how to forgive. A coward never forgives. It is not in his nature.

Now, Dear Readers, if you will forgive me for repeating a portion of the lovely poem titled "Forgiveness," by George Roemisch, here it is:

"Forgiveness is the fragrance of the violet that clings fast to the heel that crushed it."

So, if perchance you are the "heel" that crushed a violet, this is the week to seek forgiveness.

- Love, Abby.

Dear Abby: Recently, while I was getting a snack at a fast-food restaurant in Bakersfield, Calif., a young boy came up to the soft drink area. He was too short to reach the button to dispense the soft drink, so I asked him which one he wanted. He told me his preference and, when I handed it to him, he said, "Thank you, sir," and went back to his parents' table.

I was so impressed with the young man's manners that I stopped at his table on my way out and told his parents that their son was a real gentleman. They told me, in broken English, that they had always taught their children to say "please" and "thank you." I told them it was a real pleasure to see such a well-mannered child and to keep up the good work.

Abby, one sees so much rudeness these days, it's gratifying to see children who display good manners.

- E. Mann, Woodlake, Calif.

Dear E. Mann: Complimenting the child in the presence of his parents was an excellent idea. It lets him know that his good manners were noticed and appreciated.